October 2, 2023

Our journey connecting the building industry to innovation (so far)

aec+tech is excited to announce its participation in the BIM Coordinator Summit 2022 in Dublin, Ireland this September. Our founders, Niknaz Aftahi and Kevin So, will be organizing the aec+tech lounge which will host the following companies and respective presentations: Arup, BIM Launcher, DFM Systems, EngDoc, Kosmos, Limsen, Nuva Enterprises, Snaptrude, VU City. As part of the BIM Coordinator Summit, aec+tech published the following editorial article featuring the aec+tech team’s vision for connecting technology to the forefront of building design and construction.

Companies within the aec+tech Lounge
Companies within the aec+tech Lounge

It’s no secret that the building industry remains vastly behind in adopting new processes and innovations. Projects are often uncoordinated between offices and disciplines; the field and relationships rarely include incentives that promote risk-sharing and innovation. Per a 2016 McKinsey report, R&D spending by this industry lags far behind auto and aerospace. This is despite an abundance of software solutions that have been developed for the industry.

There are several industry-specific challenges that slow down the pace of modernization. Firstly, most firms are too small to spend on R&D. Secondly, the industry is decentralized, and most of the networking and learning happens through conferences, which are often out of reach for smaller firms. Thirdly, being one of the most regulated professions, the sector has traditionally focused only on incremental improvements.

The uniqueness of each project makes it difficult for individual AEC firms to scale new ideas.

Digital tools on the other hand need access to high-quality data to help the technology mature. So how exactly do we roll out solutions for multiple disciplines that are geographically dispersed, and uniquely complex depending on the needs of the clients and the professionals involved? How can a structural engineer find the right parametric design software for a complex modern-art-inspired villa, or an architect find the right tool to model its intricate geometry? Where can startups find AEC companies that will use their brilliant solutions in their projects and generate the data needed to develop better algorithms?

aec+tech user interface
aec+tech user interface

aec+tech offers a unique solution to this conundrum by changing the way companies discover and access new technology. aec+tech was founded in 2021 by Niknaz Aftahi and Kevin So, with the goal of democratizing access to the latest technological tools and improving workflows by showcasing real-world applications in a simplified manner. It is an online database — a one-stop shop for AEC companies and tech startups to connect with each other, compare alternatives, and find avenues to test and improve products.

aec+tech aspires to provide the last mile of connectivity that was missing between technology startups and their end-users as well as a robust community of technologists and innovators.

aec+tech currently has more than 120 startups who have listed their product on the website and big names in the AEC space such as Walter P Moore and NBBJ who have published their case studies. aec+tech has also become a hub connecting building industry startups with venture capitalist investors.

aec+tech is building a bridge
aec+tech is building a bridge

The focal point of aec+tech’s platform is the time and money that companies save on adopting new technology. Startups benefit from easier access to AEC companies as well as access to capital that could help them scale up. Additionally, aec+tech conducts monthly seminars and invites startups and end-users to present their case studies — improving the visibility of the technology and helping educate professionals. The monthly newsletter keeps everyone registered on the platform up to date with all events and the latest developments related to AEC. aec+tech’s primary objective in the near term is to encourage more AEC companies, including builders and real estate developers to publish their case studies, which will be cataloged by project type, size, budget, company size, and geography. All this data will help startups identify the challenges faced by the industry and resolve those pain points.

With enough case studies, the platform can function as a search engine optimized through AI. In the future, the aec+tech platform will facilitate the integration of various tools that can communicate with each other, much like project-based IoT. aec+tech also plans to bring a subscription-based model to their platform, making learning more accessible and providing better services.

AEC professionals have come a long way from drawing boards to computers. While they are still catching up with other industries in technology adoption, the industry’s future is filled with exciting tech such as virtual reality and remote operation tools in the construction processes. Our dream is to broaden the horizons of professionals and scale ideas and knowledge beyond the confines of any single discipline. By creating a community of startups and AEC, aec+tech wishes to facilitate multidisciplinary knowledge-sharing, propelling the industry towards a more dynamic and innovative future.

This article was authored for aec+tech, by Navroj Ravi, a Structural Engineer based out of Pasadena, California. Navroj has a high level of exposure to seismic design and retrofit. He is keenly interested in the domain of Smart Buildings and Automation in the Construction Industry. A huge fan of science fiction, he aspires to become a leader in the digitization of the AEC Tech Industry.