8 start-ups transforming the construction industry

23 Jan 20202.64k Views

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This week, we take a look at some of the start-ups aiming to transform the construction industry, from health and safety tools to autonomous machines.

As we enter a new decade, there are few industries that aren’t undergoing significant digital transformation.

Here, we take a look at some of the tech solutions and innovations that are set to change the construction industry over the next few years, from ambitious autonomous robot builders to everyday SaaS solutions that are making life on construction sites a little bit easier.

Fieldwire

Fieldwire is a San Francisco-based start-up that has developed a field management solution for construction workers. The company has raised $40.4m since it was founded in 2013, with investment from Menlo Ventures, Brick & Mortar Ventures and Formation 8.

The start-up aims to digitise construction, bridging the gap between the office and the job site. With Fieldwire, each worker involved on a construction project can track and coordinate work from any device, ensuring that quality, safety and scheduling protocols are followed.

The company’s CEO, Yves Frinault, is aiming to solve two distinct challenges: finding technology that actually gets adopted in the field, and forming long-term partnerships with companies while delivering enterprise-level software.

LiveCosts

LiveCosts, formerly PaidAde, was set up to address a gap in the construction software market. The Irish start-up’s founders, Kenneth Lambe and Ciaran and Niall Brennan, impressed the judges during the 2018 NDRC at ArcLabs Investor Showcase, taking home €30,000 in follow-on investment for their efforts.

The company has created a platform that enables construction teams to track their project costs. From incoming invoices to employee hour tracking, its scanning software aims to help teams on construction sites to automate these processes.

LiveCosts offers a projects dashboard to let project managers keep an eye on budget notifications and live phase reports, connecting the office and field. The platform also offers supplier tracking and a pricing catalogue, which provides price comparison between suppliers. For workers on the field, there’s a site app for time tracking, ordering materials, logging deliveries and assigning costs to projects.

EquipmentShare

EquipmentShare has been described as the “Airbnb of construction” for its equipment rental service. Based in Missouri, the start-up helps contractors rent out underutilised equipment or safety-tested equipment they need from other contractors.

EquipmentShare offers a tracking technology to help equipment owners keep an eye on their fleet, giving them access to complete and accurate data. It offers contractors access to everything from aerial lifts, material handling and earth-moving vehicles to agricultural equipment and small power tools.

Founded in 2014 by Brad Siegler, Jabbok Schlacks, Jeff Lowe, Matthew McDonald and Willy Schlacks, EquipmentShare has raised $58.7m, according to Crunchbase, from investors including Y Combinator, Insight Partners, Romulus Capital, Trifecta Capital and Sound Ventures.

Site Passport

Dublin-based Site Passport is a start-up that offers procurement and compliance SaaS tools for the construction industry.

Founded in 2017 by Rob Fox, the start-up helps companies access, evaluate, monitor and analyse their supply chain by providing smart, integrated and automated solutions with the aim of increasing competitiveness, enhancing reputation and reducing risk.

With an office in Dún Laoghaire, the company now employs seven team members who have local domain knowledge within technology and construction. In 2019, the start-up was recognised as a high-potential start-up by Enterprise Ireland, and it is currently planning international expansion.

Machine Eye

Based in Newry, Machine Eye is a start-up that has created a smart device for use on tractors, plant and heavy machinery, which aims to prevent accidents involving machinery for operators, bystanders and everybody on the farm.

When Machine Eye predicts that an accident could be imminent, using AI, it takes control of the vehicle, pre-emptively isolating or halting the machine to remove the potential risk.

The start-up has won a number of awards, including the Farm Safety Partnership Innovation award, the top award in the electronics category of Invent 2018, and the Innovation Award at the Ireland Funds Business Plan competition.

Built Robotics

Built Robotics is a Silicon Valley construction start-up, with a Silicon Valley level of ambition. The company wants to build the robots that will go on to build the world, by upgrading off-the-shelf heavy equipment with AI guidance systems. The start-up wants to take the construction equipment we already recognise and enable it to operate autonomously. The company has designed autonomous dozers and excavators for the construction sites of the future.

Each of the robots is equipped with a multilayer safety system, and the company says that its fleet has worked for more than 7,500 hours with a perfect safety record, thanks to the technology that helps its machines sense and avoid people, animals and other vehicles, along with its wireless emergency stop button.

Since Built Robotics was launched in 2016 by Andrew Liang and Noah Ready-Campbell, the company has raised $48m from Founders Fund, Next47, Great Oaks Capital and a number of other VC funds.

SmartBeam

Based in Belgium, SmartBeam facilitates budget management on construction sites for engineers, contractors, architects and clients, limiting those chaotic email and Excel exchanges that people have come to accept as normal.

Founded in 2017 by Caroline Basecqz, Florent Coninck and Vincent Canuel, the company wants to improve communication from the tendering phase, right to the end of the project. The company has partnered with BNP Paribas and the Belgian Confédération Construction while developing its productivity solution.

According to Crunchbase, the start-up has raised almost €1m from investors including Digital Attraxion and Be Angels.

ConX

Launched in 2015 as a job board to connect workers in the construction industry, ConX rolled out its tender management and take-off systems a few years later, and quickly saw millions of dollars’ worth of jobs running through its platform.

ConX grew into a platform that allows all types of tradespeople, from swimming pool builders to civil works professionals, to find jobs quickly and easily. Based in Australia, the company is led by CEO Annie Slattery, CTO Johnathan Clarke, business management developer Jonathan Slattery and head of community Keith Moore.

While the company is based on the other side of the world, the founding team are Irish emigrants who saw a gap in the market. There are now 12,000 tradespeople using ConX in Australia and the company plans to expand into the US in 2020.

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Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com