Asia’s top constech startups share digitised solutions to run efficient, sustainable operations

Partner at McKinsey Singapore also shared his thoughts on how the construction ecosystem globally is shaping up

On 23 July 2020 at 4PM SGT/HKT, the leading construction technology startups across Asia gathered for a virtual conference tackling the challenges faced by the industry in the midst of the pandemic and the looming climate change.

The Revitalising construction through technology webinar focused on introducing technological solutions to one of the least digitised sectors, with the aim of improving operational efficiency, increasing workforce productivity, ensuring employee safety and minimising carbon footprint. It was organised by Wavemaker Partners and supported by PropertyGuru Group, Enterprise Singapore, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, InvestHK and GeoWorks. 

Around 300 viewers from the construction, real estate, property development and management, engineering solutions, specialist contractors and other sectors tuned in to catch the insights of the following speakers: 

  • Mukund Sridhar, partner at McKinsey, who also leads McKinsey’s Capital Projects & Infrastructure Practice in Southeast Asia and McKinsey’s Real Estate Practice in Asia 
  • Denis Branthonne, founder & CEO of Novade, a leading smart field building & construction management platform 
  • Nimantha Baranasuriya, co-founder & CEO of Ackcio, a deep-tech company developing advanced, real-time, wireless monitoring solutions for geotechnical and structural instruments  
  • Kirtan Patel, co-founder & CEO of Sama, a digital platform that enables employers to hire migrant workers faster and ethically 
  • Brandon Ng, co-founder and CEO of Ampd Energy, a company focused on driving the transition toward zero-emission energy in the construction sector 
  • Mohammad Sherafatmand, founder and CEO of Hydroleap, a company that develops cost-effective, chemical-free, easy to operate water treatment process 

Regina Tan, founder and CEO of Venture Brander RCo and former Bloomberg reporter, served as the host and moderator of the webinar. 

Mukund Sridhar, partner at McKinsey Singapore, kicked off the virtual conference by presenting a “macro view of how the construction ecosystem globally is shaping up, what is McKinsey’s view of the next normal and how this impacts technology.” 

Among the key messages that were shared during his presentation was the fact that construction is the biggest sector in the world, yet it has not performed well even before the pandemic. He also shared the “nine shifts [that] will radically change the way construction projects are delivered – and similar industries have already undergone many of the shifts.” 

The CEOs of Novade, Ackcio, Sama, Ampd Energy and Hydroleap, which are the five founding members of the Asia Construction Technology Alliance, then shared the individual solutions that they have developed to help the industry move forward. These startups are mentored by Steve Melhuish, co-founder and former CEO at PropertyGuru and venture partner at Wavemaker Partners. 

First on the line-up was Denis Branthonne, founder & CEO of Novade, who spoke about their integrated platform that can connect all projects and users in the field through the use of any internet-connected device. 

He explained that through Novade, “all field processes can be managed in one single application. You can manage your quality inspections, defects, handover. You can manage all activities related to health, safety and environment. You can get real-time insights on your production, on your projects through very accurate reports. You can manage and maintain your assets. You can manage your workforce and you can track any activity or task in the field.” 

The co-founder & CEO of Ackcio Nimantha Baranasuriya then followed the presentation by sharing the origins of their company name, which was derived from the word “Accio,” a magical spell in the Harry Potter series that summons an object towards its caster. 

Essentially, he said that this is what they are trying to enable in industrial spaces, like construction sites where there are a lot of systems scattered around monitoring various things. “With our magical technology, we are sending all that data to your fingertips for real-time decision making.” 

On the other hand, Kirtan Patelco-founder & CEO of Sama, decided to use technology to ensure that migrant workers are being treated fairly and ethically. Since companies nowadays are more interested in ethical recruitment, their digital recruiting platform will allow them to access “a more robust supply chain on the data side to verify that the companies that they are working with are hiring ethically and the workers themselves have not been charged very, very high fees.”

The co-founder and CEO of Ampd Energy Brandon Ng then talked about their vision-driven company which aims for An Emission Free Future for Construction because, in the next 40 years, the world is going to build 2.5 trillion square feet of new buildings, which is the equivalent of constructing a new Paris every single week for the next four decades — “and if we can’t find a way to do this sustainably, we’re gonna have a massive environmental issue.” 

Ampd Energy wants to minimise the carbon footprint produced by the industry by introducing the Ampd Enertainer, the world’s first battery energy storage system that is designed specifically for the needs of the construction industry.  

Meanwhile, founder and CEO of Hydroleap Mohammad Sherafatmand said that they are doing their part to help the industry by revolutionising water treatment through a cost-effective and automated solution that replaces chemicals with electricity. 

He revealed that the chemical machines currently being used in construction sites produce huge footprint because of the machine itself and the chemical storage. “For a 60 cubic metre per hour system, it requires around 27 square metres of the space. The minimum operating cost is SGD18 (USD13) to 25 per hour, the mode of operation is manual so during the rainy season after eight to 10 hours, they need to shut down the system and start cleaning it.” 

In comparison, the Hydroleap System produces a 12 square metre footprint, costs only SGD2 per hour and is automated. 

Yet, these are all just a preview of the innovative solutions that will enable that construction sector to run more efficient, sustainable operations. To find out more, download the entire webinar session here: