Grab your mug of hot cocoa, put on your holiday pajamas, and sit back and relax while we take a glance back at 2022! Sharing the holiday season together is the greatest gift of all, which is why we’re spreading the cheer and reviewing the most relevant milestones for CEMEX Ventures this past year.
Record-breaking levels of Contech investment in 2021–over $4.5 billion USD invested worldwide, with over 200 funding rounds in the ranks, and the most acquisitions ever reported for the sector–indicated that the construction industry was ripe for innovation. If this year’s figures have told us anything else about our rapidly evolving industry, it’s that there is a massive potential that remains for the taking in these next coming years.
It’s been an eventful year and at CEMEX Ventures we’ve been busy! Before we count down into the new year and raise our glasses, let’s blast in to the past and remember the significant investments made, partnerships forged, and campaigns launched in 2022!
Investments, partnerships, and more!
- HiiROC: Our first investment of the year was with HiiROC, the clean hydrogen production startup, bringing us one step closer to a ‘Hydrogen Economy’. CEMEX has been a pioneer in the adoption of hydrogen within the cement industry, so its investment in HiiROC to increase hydrogen injection capacity in its cement kilns to substitute the use of fossil fuels bolstered its ongoing sustainability strategies.
- Synhelion: Earlier this year, CEMEX and Synhelion achieved a breakthrough in the industry: connecting the clinker production process with Synhelion’s solar receiver and producing the world’s first solar clinker. This revolutionary innovation is a step toward developing a fully solar-driven cement plant and reducing the CO2 emissions that result from heating clinker during cement production. But that’s not all! We ended the year committing to another follow-on investment in the Swiss startup, who started construction on DAWN this year–the world’s first industrial plant to produce sustainable fuels using solar heat.
- PartRunner: Springing into action, in March we invested in PartRunner, an on-demand delivery platform for the construction and industrial sectors. Supply chains continue to be a chronic pain point in the construction industry and our investment in the US-based startup seeks to address this challenge, particularly for small and medium projects. As Head of CEMEX Ventures, Gonzalo Galindo, said, “This solution serves a perfect match with CEMEX´s commitment to provide our clients with more control over their businesses by enhancing the efficiency and transparency of the delivery of products and materials to the construction site.” After all, ‘Focus on Customers’ is one of the CEMEX brand’s six corporate values.
- Carbon Upcycling Technologies (CUT): We’re all going green…which is why our investment in Carbon Upcycling Technologies was a legendary milestone this year! The startup’s solution is helping CEMEX reduce traditional clinker in its cement production process by up to 30% through their clinker substitutes and its technology. However, this isn’t the first time CEMEX and CUT have worked together. In 2020, the companies agreed to test and scale the startup’s technology in CEMEX R&D facilities and develop industrial-scale projects. If one thing is clear, however, it’s that we’re not the only ones with faith in CUT. After our investment in the startup, they were awarded £2.3 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This funding is creating the world’s first commercial-scale cement additive plant that combines CO2 sequestration and waste glass and includes members of the glass and cement industries like CEMEX, Glass Technology Services, and others.
- ObraLink: We know when there’s something special right in front of us, which is why in 2022 we also invested in one of the winners of the Construction Startup Competition 2021–ObraLink–that developed a forecasting technology that monitors concrete during its pouring and hardering to predict its strength in real-time during the construction process. After a successful trial, CEMEX tested ObraLink with a group of clients in Mexico and looks to expand their services in the country while growing in other U.S. and LATAM markets!
- Carbon Clean: 2022 was a successful year for our carbon capture, storage and utilization which is why we doubled down on our investment in Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (“Carbon Clean”). Although our relationship goes back to 2020 when we signed a collaboration agreement with the carbon capture startup and to 2021 when we made an initial investment, this follow-on investment is part of CEMEX’s strategy to develop breakthrough decarbonization technology to achieve our ambitious climate action goals.
- COBOD: One of our investment pillars is Construction’s Future is Now in order to bring the technology of the future into practice today, which is why this year we invested in the global leader of construction-grade 3D printers, COBOD. We’ve been working with the startup over the last year to innovate in the 3D printing space and have even created a proprietary admixtures family called D.fab that can be used with 3D printing machinery in the construction industry, so we look forward to seeing what further innovations we can achieve to build a better future.
- Zacua Ventures: We talk a lot about the most promising technologies and solutions, but not always about the people behind the genius, which brings me to our next investment of 2022. CEMEX Ventures joined a select group of global investors to fund Zacua Ventures, a global early-stage venture fund that envisions a more sustainable, efficient, and interconnected Built Environment. What makes Zacua Ventures stand out from the rest? It’s a fund by incumbents for incumbents that will seek to find synergies between the innovation priorities of all its partners, which includes industry leaders like ANDRES Construction, GS Futures, Progreso X and SABANCI Building Materials Group in addition to CEMEX.
- Modulous: Earlier this autumn, we announced our commitment to Modulous, the Seattle and London-based construction technology company dedicated to helping developers and construction firms build modular housing without capital intensive factories. With the participation of CEMEX Ventures’ follow-on investment, Modulous raised a whopping $11.5 million of Series A funding from investors that also included Patrizia-backed Sustainable Future Ventures (SFV) (Germany), Regal London (UK), Blackhorn Ventures (US), GroundBreak Ventures (Canada), Goldacre (UK), and Leela Capital (UK).
- WtEnergy: Last but not least, we closed the year with our first ever investment in WtEnergy, a clean energy startup that converts waste into a low-carbon energy solution. There’s no time like the present to reduce CO2 emissions across our operations and this investment aligns with our strategy to find innovative clean fuel and energy sources for the cement industry. 2023 will be a big year for the corporation and startup as they begin an ambitious rollout strategy across multiple EMEAA operations!
Construction Startup Competition 2022
Just like our investment arm, we stayed busy this year attending events all around the world and hosting our annual Construction Startup Competition. This year, we received almost 3000 solutions from ConTech startups around the globe – which amped up the competition and global reach from previous years! The 6th edition of the Competition Startup Competition challenged startups with “Building a Boundless New World,” and they stepped up to the call.
Perhaps what also made this year’s Competition even bigger and better than ever were our competition partners from Black & Veatch, Dysruptek by Haskell, Ferrovial, GS Futures, Hilti, VINCI Group’s Leonard, NOVA by Saint-Gobain, Procore, and Zacua Ventures, who helped us decide the 8 winning Competition ideas from trailblazing startups.
The Construction Startup Competition 2022 winners were…
- 2050 Materials (United Kingdom) – Platform to find, compare, and specify sustainable building products to save time and money at any project stage.
- Automatic Construction (United States) – Cast in place concrete buildings at 1/5th the cost using pre-fab inflatable concrete formwork.
- Carbon Limit (United States) – Carbon negative cement technology that reduces the carbon footprint of concrete & turns it into a CO2 sponge.
- Cathago (Germany) – Purchase2Pay platform connecting the procurement department, construction site, and external suppliers – from requisition over invoice verification to payment.
- Constru (Israel) – AI-powered construction solution that turns captured imagery into insights for better data-driven decision making.
- Exodigo (United States) – Cutting-edge sensors and AI technology that identifies utilities and other underground entities accurately without the need to dig.
- Loris (United States) – Portable, battery-powered light towers to instantly deliver safety, security, WiFi, and transparency to job sites.
- Soil Connect (United States) – Dirt & Aggregates Marketplace that connects those who have soil and aggregates with those who need it.
…who we hosted in New Orleans, USA (NOLA for you locals), at the industry-leading Groundbreak conference, powered by Procore. On November 9th, we invited each of the winning startups to pitch their solutions to conference attendees and a panel of members from CEMEX Ventures and the other nine competition partners to compete within their vertical for the chance to become a gold medalist.
And after an intense period of evaluation and voting from the judges, the gold medalists 🥇 were announced as: CARBON LIMIT, EXODIGO, SOIL CONNECT, and AUTOMATIC CONSTRUCTION.
Didn’t participate this year? No need to worry. It’s our pleasure to announce that we’re already gearing up for the Construction Startup Competition 2023. Start taking guesses where Pitch Day 2023 will be located and stay tuned for more news around springtime next year!
CEMEX Ventures Leaplab
It can’t go without saying that one of our most memorable moments from 2022 was the launch of CEMEX Ventures Leaplab, our intensive acceleration program for innovative startups that address the most critical challenges of the construction industry. We launched the 14-week exclusive acceleration program in the beginning of November, which counts on a cohort of five thoughtfully selected startups with the following solutions:
- AEInnova develops energy harvesting solutions to help the industry become more efficient and environmentally friendly, focusing on Industry 4.0 with self-powered battery-less IoT solutions assets and process monitoring.
- Ception is developing AI-powered systems for construction and mining mobile heavy equipment, to improve safety, productivity, and sustainability.
- Cloud Cycle developed a cloud-based real-time concrete management software designed to help building materials be delivered within specification reliably.
- Qsee’s solution is a prescriptive analytics software powered machine learning technology to enhance industry’s efficiency, productivity, quality.
- Ruedata offers tire management software that collects and processes relevant data to optimize fleet maintenance and reduce costs, improve safety, and mitigate CO2 emissions.
By connecting the most promising early-stage startups to the pain points and challenges within CEMEX and the construction industry, Leaplab furthers CEMEX Ventures’ mission to drive the construction industry revolution and brings CEMEX’s corporate know-how, reputation, and maturity together and entrepreneurial spirit and expertise of CEMEX Ventures to startups.
Are you an early-stage startup that wants to #Leap? Participate in our 2023 cohort – we’re always open to hearing from you!
Make way for 2023!
This year was one for the books. Let’s just hope that what happened in 2022 doesn’t stay there. We look forward to launching new projects, investments, follow-ons, and partnerships in 2023 in order to continue finding synergies and revolutionizing the construction industry.
Stay connected because we have a few surprises in store for 2023. And stay tuned for the launch of our TOP 50 2023 Contech Startups list launching in January…you won’t want to miss it!