Funding the Future of Construction Innovation

Every week I page through the latest news releases focused on construction technology to hit the wires—and this week there was a noticeable trend hard to ignore: an uptick in funding for new innovative ventures. Think exoskeletons, 3D printed homes, and SaaS (software-as-a-service) to connect disparate workflows—all much needed to drive the industry forward.
Now, this isn’t a new trend—but it is one that seems to ebb and flow in spurts. Last year, Peggy Smedley wrote a blog that indicated interest in global construction startups was on the rise, with total funding since 2009 placed at roughly $4.34 billion, according to JLL. McKinsey puts the number higher, at roughly $10 billion between 2011 and 2017, although this also includes technology throughout the entire construction lifecycle of a facility. The bottomline is investors recognize construction is an industry that needs technology—and innovators are rising to the occasion. 
Let’s look at a few examples from the past few weeks. Sarcos Robotics, which is a company that produces robots that augment humans to enhance productivity and safety, announced it has raised $40 million in Series C funding round. The company will use the funding to begin production on a battery-powered wearable industrial exoskeleton. The company says this has been in development for more than 20 years, can safely lift up to 200 pounds for extended work sessions, and is scheduled for commercial release in 2021.
We see another announcement that is specifically targeting the MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) construction market. MSUITE has completed a $4 million seed funding round to help scale all company areas and accelerate innovation of its cloud-based platform. The company offers a SaaS platform to change how disparate teams in design, fabrication, and jobsite construction collaborate to increase productivity and reduce construction costs. The technology connects the BIM-to-fabrication-to-field construction workflows.
Let’s look at one more case from the month of August. ICON recently secured $35 million in Series A funding. The startup is using 3D printing robotics to deliver resilient homes around the world. This company recognizes that traditional building and construction techniques have not improved and have only become more expensive. To help in 2018, the company unveiled its first 3D printer and secured a building permit and printed a home in Austin, Texas. This year, the company delivered resilient, 3D-printed homes in Mexico. The latest round of funding will accelerate the development of its printers, create a variety of home types and designs, and enhance its core technology stack.
As I have almost always asked when I see this uptick is this: Will this money inspire greater innovation in the construction industry and will we finally disrupt the way things have always been done? I think we might finally be on the cusp of this answer being yes, but we shall see.