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Investors Pour $1.05 Billion Into Construction Tech Startups

According to a new report published by commercial real estate giant JLL, VCs invested $1.05 billion in global construction technology startups in the first half of 2018, a record high. The investment volume in 2018 is already up nearly 30 percent over the 2017 total. These construction tech startups are helping to deliver projects more quickly, to reduce wasted resources and materials, to make worksites safer, to increase coordination among stakeholders on project sites, and to provide new data sources for project leaders. 

As the report states, the rise in construction tech investments coincides with "an industry plagued by cost fluctuations, labor shortage issues and overall lack of productivity improvements — creating what many venture capitalists view as a prime opportunity for disruption." 


What We're Reading

Cities

  • Must read: Zoox raises $800M to build self-driving cars that fuse cameras, radar, and LiDAR technology. Instead of retro-fitting existing cars with sensors and smart software like other autonomous car projects, Zoox has created a vehicle from the ground up.
  • Rit Aggarwala of Sidewalk Labs identifies 11 reasonable expectations, key uncertainties, and looming policy choices when it comes to cities and self-driving technology — from pricing to parking to job impact.
  • NYC is allowing pilot programs for dockless bikes to commence in the transit-hungry fringes of the city like the Rockaways. 
  • New data explores the economics of vertical building, suggesting that the gradient of rise in rents is higher than the price premium tenants pay for being in prime locations in the central business district, i.e. people want to be higher more than they want to be centrally located within a city. 
  • Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams proposed a system for monitoring below market housing stock after tenants of Kushner Companies were being harassed by the developer. One startup called Rentlogic is already creating a system for giving letter grades to apartment buildings. 
  • Are you interested in transportation and urban issues? Here are some of the best podcasts on the topic, compiled by Paul Barter. 
  • New data and maps give stunning visuals for how much land and money is being wasted on parking spots in America. In Jackson, Wyoming, there are 27.1 parking spots per household. 

Real Estate

  • Revolution Capital, the venture fund founded by Steve Case, is investing directly in real estate, pouring capital into "opportunity zones" that offer investors benefits like exemptions from paying income taxes and capital gains. 
  • VTS launched a new tool that gives users realtime market analytics, making commercial real estate deal conversion rates and velocity of sales visible for the first time. 
  • Has the co-working trend hit its peak in Manhattan? Companies like Knotel and WeWork are giving out more concessions such as no-rent periods to bring in tenants. 
  • Smart lock maker Latch partners with UPS to enable delivery people to easily access buildings. 

Construction

  • Watch how Gilbane used VR to validate prefabricated construction, enabling them to build faster. They used Autodesk company Revit to allow subcontractors and designers to exchange models in real time. The penthouse of the building was fabricated offsite in nine sections and then put together in one weekend; in the past, this would have taken over a month to assemble. 
    • Related: Augmented reality is being used on projects to show the difference between design intent and what the project currently looks like.  
  • Design, manufacturing and construction company Katerra announced this month that it will build a 577,000-square-foot-factory in Tracy, California, near the company's Menlo Park headquarters.
  • How sensors are building smart jobsite 'ecosystems' on construction sites. 

Fundraising

  • Smart workplace startup Openpath raises $20M in Series B from Emergence Capital. 
  • Co-working startup Knotel acquired 42Floors to get access to data and to "become the blockchain of property." 
  • Reali has raised $20M for its real estate platform that is attempting to disrupt the commission model for real estate brokers. 
  • Pointy raises $12M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon.  
  • VR startup Foyr, which is used for creating and designing interior spaces, raised $4.2M from SRI Capital and JLL. 

Upcoming Events

Voice Summit | July 24 | This is the largest voice tech event of the year and will bring together the largest players in the conversational design ecosystem. More 

AI and Truth | September 18 | Part one of an event series at New Lab exploring technology, humanity and the future with Manoush Zomorodi. The Radicant brings together experts across disciplines to discuss pressing issues we face collectively as a species related to emerging technology. More

CRE Tech Chicago | October 18 | Michael Beckerman and the team at CREtech are heading to Chicago with proptech industry leaders. More

BuiltWorlds Hackathon | Chicago | October 19-21 | Developers, makers, and built industry experts gather to hack solutions to burning built world problems. More



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