To deliver the infrastructure boom, construction giants must open their doors to startups
Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.
After much discussion and debate, Congress has finally passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. With big bucks allocated to everything from roadways to bridges to airports, the bill will keep general contractors busy for years as they feast on this building bonanza.
These projects are all funded by taxpayer dollars, and ideally, they’ll be built efficiently. However, the construction industry often doesn’t operate this way. According to McKinsey & Co, 80% of large construction projects are completed over budget. What’s more, these projects take 20% longer than originally scheduled. These are alarming statistics for a sector that represents 10% of global GDP. In what other industry do we accept such a high failure rate?
To make the most of this country’s commitment to improving our national infrastructure, construction companies must accelerate their investment in technologies that drive efficiency. Historically, the construction industry has been slow to invest in new technologies. Comfortable with the tools they know–often the same tools they’ve been using for decades–the large general contractors that build our country’s biggest projects have tended to stick with the “tried and true.”
However, the winds recently began to shift. The construction technology industry, which is driving technical innovation in the sector, is seeing a substantial increase in funding. According to the market intelligence firm CB Insights, the construction tech sector received $5.1 billion in funding for startups between 2015 and 2019. But 2020 will be a record-breaking year for the industry, with $1.3 billion in total funding and 56% growth.
So, in what segments of the construction market are we seeing innovations that could deliver the greatest impact on our ability to build efficiently? A number of start-ups are focused on the build phase itself and are using imaging technology coupled with artificial intelligence to track progress vs. plan.