Is the Future of the Construction Industry in the Hands of Startups?

construction startupsBy Gonzalo Galindo, head of CEMEX Ventures

CEMEX Ventures, hosts of Construction Startup Competition, dive into the future of the industry and why they bet on startups to bring innovation into construction. 

When speaking of innovation in the construction industry, we've seen and heard quite a few updates about new emerging technologies, many in the hands of startups and entrepreneurs, that will help contractors, project managers, engineers and likely partners. Yet, the digital transformation has been very slow for one of the world´s oldest industries, known for its lack of innovation and reluctancy to change. Add a global pandemic to the mix and the scenario might seem even more complicated for the future of the industry. 

The Construction Digital Revolution

At CEMEX Ventures we've been looking into the challenges the construction sector is facing and believe that although it might seem tough at first, it is possible to think of a brighter future for the industry by working hand in hand with both well-established companies and startups alike.

With the unexpected hit of COVID-19 , many industries have been talking about how this forced a digital revolution in some aspects of their work, being the most talked about the adoption of remote work. As for construction, the pandemic gives the opportunity to fast-track the industry´s most needed digital transformation, implement solutions that promote efficiency and allow for fewer people to be present on the jobsite (but keep working).

The time is right to test new business models and embrace the use of new technologies, and in this scenario, startups have the lead in the game. Some older age companies must now embrace a new reality: construction is in dire need of innovation and by looking to startups, this transformation is not only possible, but also extremely beneficial for the companies betting on it. At CEMEX Ventures, this is what drives us.

Ever since we began exploring the venture world in construction back in 2016, we've come to know many startups working with solutions fit for one, or more, of the pain points we identified in the construction value chain. Although R&D developments have been in the works at CEMEX for many years, we still consider that betting on startups allows for further developments that will benefit the industry.

Top Construction Startups in United States

As part of our efforts to promote innovation in the ecosystem, we've invested in startups that have developed technologies that promote efficiency in the supply chain management, allow for improvement in the daily project management, and attend to the sustainability concerns that surround the construction industry, just to name a few. In the United States and Canada, we have four startups in our portfolio working to solve the challenges that contractors face every day.

GoFor (Canada & USA) matches the delivery requirements of distributors, retailers, and contractors with the appropriate lightweight to heavy-duty vehicles of its driver community inventory. Servicing more than 60 cities in Canada and USA and expanding its reach in the near future thanks to their latest $9.8 million seed funding round, GoFor provides an on-demand reliable, affordable, and timely delivery of goods to their customer and job sites. They are providing an indispensable tool for suppliers, distributors, and builders—turning the traditional cost center of delivery into a modern, customer-centric profit center.

Arqlite (California & Argentina) processes unrecyclable plastic waste into artificial gravel that avoids the use of natural quarry aggregates and boulders in the production of light concrete with a low CO2 footprint, and installs drainage beds for construction and landscaping. The winners of Construction Startup Competition 2019, and our newest addition to the CEMEX Ventures´ investment portfolio, offers an innovative solution around the construction industry’s circular economy, giving a second life to plastic, and reducing the carbon footprint and operating costs of handling and producing construction materials such as aggregates and concrete. Arqlite´s new factory in Santa Ana, California, has machinery from different European countries, which, added to the technology designed by the company in Argentina, will reach a capacity of 18 thousand tons per year.

X3 Builders (California) is a vertically integrated general contractor that combines architectural design, material procurement, and construction services to provide clients with a one-stop solution and a seamless transition from design to construction. They offer a 100% technological approach, real-time pricing during the design process, and works directly with suppliers to procure materials, eliminating submittals and lead-time delays. Their software helps to manage the process end-to-end, simplifying the complexities of construction and automating most of the construction administration and accounting process.

StructionSite (California) creates digital worksite models through 360º cameras that provide data to its software, which digitalizes and documents worksite progress. Through the user’s position, “Computer Vision” and “Machine Learning” technology, StructionSite’s software processes, analyzes, and creates images of the worksite to identify key elements and evaluate advancements.

Opportunity for Startups: Construction Startup Competition

Through our annual Construction Startup Competition, we have grown our startup ecosystem with more than one thousand startups worldwide   that are working on solving the industry´s most pressing issues. This year, we partnered with four more industry leaders to host: Ferrovial, Hilti, VINCI Group´s Leonard and NOVA by Saint-Gobain. Together, we form a powerful alliance that serves to break the paradigm that the construction industry is fragmented, and to really promote a change in the sector.

Five companies with a long-standing history in the industry, betting on startups in order to promote their solutions, implement them and foster the construction revolution. Looking into the not so distant future, disruptions that will transform the construction value chain are:

  • Off-site construction
  • The use of robotics
  • 3D printing technologies
  • Innovative building materials
  • Digitalization of products, design and processes

During the competition, all eyes from leading companies and investors will be on Contech startups working with solutions that can help bring more value to the sector and overall, make it better. We believe the future of the industry is, in fact, in the hands of startups and we want to help them gain access to the decision makers of the sector.

We invite startups to apply for Construction Startups Competition before July 26 by visiting https://www.cemexventures.com/startup-competition-2020/.

Gonzalo Galindo, CEMEX VenturesGonzalo Galindo is the head of CEMEX Ventures. With over 20 years of experience in CEMEX, he promotes a construction revolution by working with startups in construction, entrepreneurs, universities and other entities interested in the industry. Thanks to Gonzalo´s work and his team in CEMEX Ventures, he´s been named the most relevant investor in the construction ecosystem for the second year in a row. 




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