- Firmus, a Tel Aviv-based construction technology company, is one of seven startups selected for the latest cohort of smart city-focused accelerator Urban-X. Sponsored by British automotive manufacturer Mini, Urban-X focuses on issues such as mobility, energy consumption, infrastructure, housing, food waste and water.
- Firmus leverages artificial intelligence and historical data to help construction companies learn from previous mistakes and automatically detect errors and clashes in early stages of design. The platform allows users to export 3D models and automatically receive feedback about potential problems, prioritized by cost and complexity and grouped by discipline. The 1-year-old company, which is active in Europe, plans to expand its operations to the U.S. construction market next year.
- The seven companies in the new cohort will each receive up to $150,000 and guidance on customer development, product development, network-building and successful go-to-market strategies. Eighty five percent of the 51 companies that already went through the Urban-X program have gone on to raise their next round of capital, according to a press statement.
Firmus has interesting potential applications for the U.S. design and construction sectors, as it helps find risks in a project’s design before construction begins. To create this information, the application utilizes data from previous construction projects, co-founder and CEO Harel Meshulam told Construction Dive.
“It applies data science and machine learning to analyze previous projects’ data, data which already exists in every construction company,” he said. “This is how Firmus’ engine learns to define between good and bad practice.”
Firmus automatically scans 3D models and compares them to a database to alert users about potential risks and errors. Those insights are then converted into actionable next steps to be able to use this construction knowledge during design stages.
The historical data comes from clients' common data environment (CDE) platforms including BIM360, Procore, Aconex and other document management systems, Meshulam said. Firmus anonymizes the data to protect commercially sensitive information.
In a recent study, Dodge Data & Analytics found that most owners and contractors agree that early collaboration has a positive impact on the quality of completed work, safety and clarity of scope, as well as adherence to the schedule and budget. One of the primary goals of early collaboration is to identify any potential constructability issues, design clashes or other possible areas of disagreement as soon as possible, therefore reducing the chance of time-consuming and costly change orders.
Firmus isn't the first contech company to be selected for the prestigious accelerator. Other construction-focused companies that have benefited from inclusion in the Urban-X program include:
- Toggle, maker of a rebar-tying robot that recently received funding from "Shark Tank" personality Mark Cuban and other investors.
- BuildStream, a free software tool that helps facilitate the real-time management of heavy equipment and logistics in complicated construction projects.
- Avvir, a digital twinning platform for construction that recently raised $2.5 million.
- Versatile Natures, maker of CraneView, which offers insights about construction sites via sensors mounted under the hook of a crane. The company has raised $8.5 million since its founding three years ago.