“Contech Startups: Assemble!”

The fifth edition of Construction Startup Competition saw another year of significant increase in the quality of the startups who submitted their solutions. Since the 2020 edition, we´ve been gathering the best players in the construction industry. In this year´s “Avengers, Assemble!” call, we got together Dysruptek, Ferrovial, GS Futures, Hilti, Vinci Group´s LEONARD and NOVA by Saint-Gobain.

And just like in Marvel´s Endgame,  la crème de la crème from the Contech ecosystem showed up and presented the solutions that will change the construction industry´s future for the better. Now, we are currently on the process of evaluating all participants in order to select the most promising startups from the 2021 competition and announce the top winners by the end of October.

“The outcome of the competition has really surprised positively all of us involved in the organization of this challenge. Coming from a year with many hurdles and uncertainty, the participation and quality of the participants has been very interesting to evaluate” expressed Gonzalo Galindo, Head of CEMEX Ventures (or should we call him Captain?). “As we continue to identify new solutions across the entire construction value chain that promote innovation in the sector, seeing that 65% of the participants are either already generating revenue or in their early stages of commercialization shows we are right on the brink of the construction revolution with more and more adoption happening across the industry” he added.

Let´s take a look at how the Contech ecosystem responded to this year´s call, and what areas and countries are dominating in the race towards a more innovative and efficient construction industry.

Sustainability and new construction methods

We can´t continue doing the same thing in the same way and expect to have different results. This quote has long been a part of many conversations where “performance improvement” comes to play. Same applies to construction, and the entrepreneurs know it!

This year, startups who offer sustainable and innovative alternatives for the sector´s challenges were the kings, with 41% of all applicants focusing their solutions within this area:

  • 16% New Construction Methods
  • 14% Sustainability & Smart Cities
  • 11% Innovative Building Materials

Altogether, these seek to transform the way we´ve known construction up until today.

It should come as no surprise that sustainable efforts lead the participation in the competition. Due to the construction industry´s effect in the environment and the urgent need to solve it, carbon footprint mitigation became the main Infinity Stones of the sector in recent years.

The Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change, has urged governments and private entities to tackle their environmental footprint in order to limit global warming. For example, CEMEX has imposed very aggressive climate action targets, with a commitment to provide all of our clients with net-zero concrete by 2050 and reduce our carbon footprint by 40% on 2030. Startups and entrepreneurs with solutions that fit this challenge will play a pivotal role in making it happen.  

“Tackling the sustainability challenges that are being imposed upon the construction sector can´t possibly be done by big companies alone. We need to add startups in the mix, enhance their solutions, evaluate their business models, and leverage on our network to help expand it across markets. By doing so, results and industry adoption can be seen faster. Mix their technologies with innovative materials and construction methods, and we have a winning combination for the entire sector” expressed Galindo.

Solutions in sustainability range from carbon capture technologies, resource and waste management and circular economy approaches. New construction methods like modular and industrialized construction, the use of robotics, sensors, and 3D printing, as well as the improvement or replacement or current building materials were also amongst the solutions presented by the participating startups in the competition.

The need for efficiency in the jobsite and built environment continues

After an unprecedented year for all, the construction industry is in dire need to enhance all of its safety protocols and communication tools, as well as maximize a project´s efficiency to the fullest. While doing the initial evaluation of the participants, we encountered that 31% of the applicants fall under the project and jobsite management category.

A well-known challenge amongst the professionals in the sector, it´s clear that 2020 made an impact in those looking to solve them even faster, as seen in the participation rate from this year´s Construction Startup Competition. 

Amongst the solutions that we´re seeking in these areas are:

  • Data analysis, optimization, prediction, and analytics
  • Schedule management and execution to avoid delays, overlapping and budget overruns
  • Enhanced HSEQ procedures (health, safety, environment & quality)
  • Captured data for connected jobsite

Take a look at the selection of startups from our portfolio that are leading efforts for the project & jobsite management of the industry across North and South America.

Europe and North America: Contech leaders!  

Following the trend of previous years, Construction Startup Competition 2021 saw its main clusters in participation in Europe and North America, with United States representing 20% of the total participation and United Kingdom a 10%. Other countries that followed in participation were Spain, Germany, France, making Europe a strong contender for the most innovative region for the construction technology ecosystem.

United States, the country with most participants in the fifth edition of the challenge, continues dominating as they encompass one of the biggest startup ecosystems in the world and many investors are based in the US.

Altogether, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East represent a 31% of the total participation. Over the past editions of the competition, we´ve seen these regions growing their participation levels and every year, the startups that present themselves in the challenge have very well-developed solutions who continue securing investment as their local ecosystems continue to grow. One example is the Israeli Contech ecosystem, who has shown tremendous growth over the past four years.

Construction Startup Competition region participation breakdown:

  • Europe: 42%
  • North America: 25%
  • Latin America: 14%
  • Asia Pacific: 11%
  • Middle East: 6%

Coming up next: winner selection & Pitchday event!

What a time for Contech and all its stakeholders! As investment in Contech continues to rise, with a solid $1.3 billion USD invested in 2020, the participating startups had the opportunity to knock directly on the door of potential investors and partners who wish to scale their solution into new heights.

The fun part is now taking place for analysts in CEMEX Ventures, Dysruptek, Ferrovial, GS Futures, Hilti, Vinci Group´s LEONARD and NOVA by Saint-Gobain, who are evaluating all the proposals submitted by the participants in order to identify who have the potential to become the next legends of the construction industry. “It feels like we have all the infinity stones in our table and are now getting ready to fight Thanos. We love this stage of the competition and can´t wait to see who come out victorious” revealed an anonymous analyst from CEMEX Ventures who is very much a Marvel fan!

Meanwhile, startups must grab their agendas and mark October 26, 2021 on their calendars. This day, we will announce the winners of Construction Startup Competition 2021

The selected startups will receive an express invitation to Builtworld´s Venture Conference, to be celebrated in Miami, Florida on November 11-12. There, in front on top corporate leaders of the competition´s organizers, decisions makers from the industry and potential investors, startups will have the opportunity to pitch their solution and demonstrate why they should be declared the top winner of this year´s edition.

“Just by participating in the competition, entrepreneurs have an advantage that many don´t and that in itself is a big win. You are being seen and evaluated by corporates who believe in embracing new technologies, who are betting on innovation for the construction industry, and who trust that startups can really make a difference for the sector,” said Gonzalo Galindo.

In the past, many of the leading companies have gone to collaborate and invest in startups that were not declared winners initially.  Therefore, regardless of who wins during the final Pitchday, the opportunity to present themselves in Builtworlds Venture Conference will most definitely be transcendental for the startups.

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