Toronto-based startup Augmenta wants to help contractors and engineers design fully-detailed, code-compliant, constructible building systems “in hours rather than weeks or months.”
Founded by a group of former Autodesk employees who built the California construction software company’s generative design tool, Augmenta has set its sights on automating the complex, traditionally manual-labour intensive process of building design.
Augmenta has secured $5.3 million CAD ($4.1 million USD) in seed funding and the support of construction and real estate industry players to refine its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered building design solution.
Augmenta’s team previously worked on generative design at Autodesk.
In an interview with BetaKit, Augmenta co-founder and CEO Francesco Iorio said that while the construction industry is “ripe for disruption,” within the construction tech space, “there are very few technologies that can deliver any improvement that is not relative.”
“There’s only so much you can do with better document management, or better scheduling, or better tracking of your people on site,” said Iorio. “What we’re doing has the opportunity to make a more important delta, as it touches the entire value chain.”
The startup’s team previously worked on generative design at Autodesk, developing an AI-based tool initially focused on advanced manufacturing that has since been embedded within Autodesk’s Fusion 360 product.
However, Iorio and his colleagues soon realized that given the variance and complexity of the construction industry, the need for generative design was far greater, and they decided to strike out on their own to bring efficiency to the building sector using AI.
Augmenta (not to be confused with the Parisian AgTech firm of the same name), has been quietly building its AI platform for over two years.
Armed with fresh capital, Augmenta plans to put “the finishing touches” on its platform, launch a pilot program focused on electrical system designs, and add sales, deployment, and customer support staff, ahead of its full public launch, later this year or in early 2023.
The startup’s seed round was led by Toronto-based Hazelview Investments’ venture arm, Hazelview Ventures, which focuses on investing in and partnering with early-stage proptech, construction tech, and cleantech firms.
The round also saw participation from construction distribution company Ferguson’s venture capital wing, Virginia’s Ferguson Ventures, and Toronto-based Whiteshell Group. Raised via SAFE, the financing represents Augmenta’s first round of venture funding.
Hazelview Investments, which manages $11.6 billion CAD in real estate assets and has a $4 billion development pipeline, plans to incorporate Augmenta’s platform in construction projects, enabling the startup to test, refine, and scale its software.
“Augmenta’s technology is a huge step forward for the construction industry and will help stakeholders achieve both cost savings and ESG benefits through waste reduction,” said Hazelview Ventures co-founder Roger Poirier, who is joining Augmenta’s board of directors as part of the round.
“We want to solve for the guts, for the core, for the nervous system, before going to the bones.”
Augmenta’s big picture goal is to automate the design of full buildings. Iorio said Augmenta has chosen to start with electrical systems for a few reasons.
According to the CEO, electrical systems are the “hardest to tackle” from a technical standpoint and among the most complex parts of construction from a building code standpoint. “We want to solve for the guts, for the core, for the nervous system, before going to the bones,” said Iorio.
It also helped that the startup’s first customer and partner was American electrical contracting firm Interstates, which has helped co-design and test Augmenta’s tech.
Augmenta hopes to make its platform publicly available by later this year or early 2023.