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Contech start-ups must overcome industry conservatism

5 February 2021

The construction technology start-up sector is set to grow, according to a new report, but it will take a concerted effort for to overcome the industry’s conservatism.

In its StateUp21 report, advisory firm StateUp described infrastructure and the built environment as a “subsector to watch this year” in the ‘govtech’ sector.

The infrastructure and built environment subsector accounts for 10% of StateUp’s database of govtech start-ups.

“We anticipate this share rapidly increasing as policymakers around the world look to the sector to encourage a green recovery, and - we hope - use their procurement power around public infrastructure and public buildings to lead the way,” the report said. “Digital transformation of a conservative industry like construction will take concerted effort. But there is increasing international consensus across stakeholder groups that change is needed.”

The report emphasised that the likes of the National Digital Twin, the Construction Playbook and supply chain and procurement reform initiatives, such as Project 13, “may also bolster young companies looking to enter this ‘legacy’-dominated space”.

The report highlighted the work of two UK contech start-ups: Commonplace and Infogrid.

Commonplace is an online engagement platform that performed a key role in the ‘mini-Holland’ pedestrian, cycling and public space project in the London borough of Waltham Forest, allowing the local population to engage with the planning process. The 15,000 comments highlighted issues that the parties involved in the project were able to address.

Infogrid combines the world’s smallest IoT sensors with the power of AI to optimise and automate building management, saving time, money, protecting the environment, and improving security. It recently received backing from Vinci via its Catalyst programme (https://www.bimplus.co.uk/news/four-uk-innovators-backed-vinci/). StateUp noted: “Infogrid directly addresses key barriers to smart building traction.”

The report also highlighted Continuum Industries, which automates and optimises infrastructure design, as “one to watch”.

Image: 124143965 © Sasinparaksa | Dreamstime.com