Though the construction industry was always perceived as stable it faces numerous challenges today. The digital revolution touches construction companies, creating a massive potential for innovation in various shapes and forms. Emerging technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), Smart Materials, Virtual Reality, and Drones shape the future of this industry toward what has been called ConstrucTech. Due to innovations like these along with the progressive digitalization, the construction industry is expected to grow on average 3.4% per year from now to 2020, reaching a value of 8.4 trillion Euro in 2020 and 14.7 trillion Euro by 2030.

At StartUs Insights, we conducted a detailed examination of 1500+ startups in the construction industry. Through analyzing newly appearing technologies and the startups driving them, we identified the most influential of these technologies. To display the innovation areas that impact the entire industry we decided to outline the eight most dominant. As our focus lies on cutting-edge startups, we provide one as an example for each area to highlight existing cooperation potential.


Due to progressive digitalization the construction industry is expected to reach a value of 14.7 trillion Euro in 2030.

Smart Materials

Startups, as well as researchers, work on improving existing materials and components through reconfiguring the chemical structure of building materials to ultimately turn them into smart materials. Materials already on the market include self-healing concrete, thermal insulation aerogel, photovoltaic glazing, and kinetic footfalls to name a few. So far, these innovatory materials harness energy from pedestrians and cars to instantly generate solar energy for skyscrapers, they avoid the ruin of concrete and reach a maximum efficiency of thermal bridging.

Polysolar’s PS-CT panel design was released in 2015 and uses photovoltaic glass as a structural building material forming windows, facades, and roofs. The glass, which is variable in transparency, produces renewable electricity and is described as the “future of building-integrated materials”.

Smart Materials

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR & AR)

As VR and AR allow professionals to test every centimeter of a building in an artificial computer environment thus preventing damage to persons, these technologies aid in managing the most dangerous risks of the construction process. Leading companies already test the resilience of roofs with different loads of rainfall, wind or snow to estimate the limits of destruction. Additionally, AR and VR equip construction companies to forecast erosions in buildings and structures by running a computer simulation with determined close-to-reality settings.

ArqVR offers a way for multiple users to experience the same design in real-time, through either phone- or computer-based VR. The Spanish startup develops VR experiences from drawings, BIM, or 3D models allowing companies to build, enhance or modify at will. For construction companies, this model presents an advanced way to assess the pros and cons of a project.

Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR & AR)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing

Building, engineering and architecture professionals use 3D printing technology to create very detailed models as well as particular real-size objects or parts of them that are difficult to produce. Earlier this year, a home was 3D printed on site in Russia at a fraction of the cost of a traditional house (8.527 Euro). Furthermore, it took less than 24 hours to built and is expected to last up to 175 years.
On top of that, a technology emerging in the 3D printing sphere is Additive Manufacturing. The main advantage of it is its layer-upon-layer approach which qualifies construction companies to create objects using various materials like plastic, metal, or concrete at the same time to simplify the engineering process.

MX3D, a Netherland-based startup, researches and develops a robotic 3D print technology. The startup’s robots are ready to print sustainable materials such as metals and synthetics in any size or shape. To prove the assets of their technology MX3D created the first 3D printed steel bridge in Amsterdam.

3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Tightly connected to VR and 3D Printing as well as construction management software, Building Information Modelling is a new level of cooperation between architects, engineers and other participants of building projects. This technology allows all involved to exchange and share information on a construction project online and immediately implement the new information into their work process. Additional to this, the use of BIM saves time and avoids costly mistakes in the construction industry.

Spanish startup CL3VER offers a proprietary web based platform for architecture and construction industries to visualize, present, and collaborate on projects in 3D and VR. Providing interactive 3D on any device, the solution allows for project presentations, virtual tours and walkthroughs among other features.

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Internet of Things (IoT)

The key value of IoT in the construction sphere is based on the data collection and online inspection of infrastructure. It is vital to explore assets online as it makes it easier to quickly make decisions and implement immediate improvements. The installation of digital devices on a building site is not only efficient from an observing point of view but also to avoid potential hazards and adapt future solutions to the available conditions. In the nearest future, street lights will measure traffic and warn drivers about possible accidents along with numerous sensors that will catch every signal of an upcoming threat to infrastructure.

London-based Converge develops wireless and cloud-based technologies to monitor sensors in real time. The startup specializes in monitoring concrete maturity including temperature, humidity, pressure, and pH levels. This solution eliminates the need for manual monitoring, lowers costs as well as carbon emission.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Construction Management Software

Construction companies are recognizing that intelligent software solutions save a lot of valuable time and money in the construction process. Solutions, for example, measure and manage all building materials in warehouses, predict procurements for upcoming iterations, and to receive automatic invoices for every purchase. Moreover, construction software solutions give a very clear understanding of the performance of a building company by providing detailed analytics and reports through customizable dashboards. Furthermore, powerful cloud services developed specifically for this industry are equipped to store a vast amount of data gathered by drones and other digital services.

Danish startup GenieBelt created a project management software for the construction industry. The interface bundles a few valuable features such as all necessary information about a project, communications, live monitoring, web & mobile access as well as easy-to-perceive reporting material.

Construction Management Software

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Sustainable Energy

Innovation is not only tangible in construction materials or the creation of models, it is also seen in sustainable energy. In particular, this innovation area revolves around extracting more energy from existing processes. For housing and building projects, this refers to the energy that is needed to maintain them as well as the need to explore sustainable options.

Italian startup Upgen explores the potential of kinetic energy in roadways with their solution LYBRA. The device is installed ground flush in areas where vehicles are expected to reduce their speed. LYBRA helps respect speed limits and retrieves the kinetic energy wasted during deceleration, making it possible to generate energy from traffic movement.

Sustainable Energy

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

Drones

Drones provide construction companies with precise, high-quality information. The vast amount of data they gather by utilizing surveying technologies is processed afterward through the creation of 3D models or the optimization of the engineering process. In the construction industry, they are used to inspect towers, lands, roads, infrastructure, and cranes among others. All necessary data is delivered in a very short amount of time, making this technology a resourceful efficient solution.

Israeli startup Dronomy transforms ordinary consumer drones into powerful construction equipment, delivering precise and comprehensive construction site data. Project monitoring and site management are improved through the 3D data provided by their autonomous – and situation aware – drones.

Drones

Will this innovation area disrupt the industry?

As the construction industry is changing at a rapid pace, it experiences a massive transformation. Decreased cost, optimized output, and automation will support companies in enhancing their processes. The innovation areas we outline in this breakdown are only a fraction of the technologies that will impact the industry, there is no doubt that digital disruption in the construction industry has not reached its peak yet. Modular building, smart cities, and robotics among others will further drive innovation and productivity. Though a few building enterprises still rely on their experience and trusted working methods, companies that act proactively and partner with startups to help them innovate and adjust their processes to gain a competitive advantage will emerge as industry leaders. StartUs Insights assists this process by providing actionable innovation intelligence on startup driven innovation in the construction sector.


StartUs Insights provides actionable intelligence on startup driven innovation.

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