Global infrastructure in many countries is ageing and performing beyond its design life and intended capacity. It is an industry that has 2-8% profit margins and is going through a period of rapid digitisation in the U.K. This has been given an initial push by government regulation such as the mandate for BIM Level 2 and accelerated by requirements imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.
The construction industry, hence, needs to better understand how existing assets are performing to get more out of them using minimal resources. However, assessing the condition of assets can be difficult. There are logistical challenges-visually inspecting remote and hard to access assets can be expensive and hazardous.
London-based construction data company that helps engineers develop smarter, more sustainable built infrastructure, BKwai has raised £2.2 million funding to solve this problem. The round was led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from Deeptech Labs and Cambridge Enterprise, the investment arm of the University of Cambridge.
Founded in 2019, the woman-led startup is combining data from multiple sources such as onsite sensors, environmental data and remote satellite data giving a whole view of the asset, as well as its surrounding environment. Deploying advanced data techniques to help engineers sift through huge volumes of data to find patterns, it predicts what is going to happen and identify early warning signs. It then puts this insight into the site engineer’s hands in real-time, enabling construction companies and asset owners to make more timely, more cost-effective and safer decisions.
Sakthy Selvakumaran, founder, BKwai said: “We are seeing increased demand and as such are expanding our offering to meet the industry’s needs. The proliferation of new sensors and satellite technology has the potential to fuel a revolution in the way the built environment can be monitored. Data can be used to make smarter, safer, more economical decisions across all aspects of the process - from planning to construction to operation and maintenance.”
Akriti Dokania, investor, Octopus Ventures added: “Construction is one of the world economy’s largest sectors, worth £7 trillion. McKinsey estimates that if the productivity levels were to catch up with the progress made by other sectors over the past 20 years or with the total economy, it could increase the industry’s value-added by £1.2 trillion a year.”
The company is currently working with Thames Tideway, Laing O'Rourke, Kier, WSP and Highways England.