Radar – Our selection of innovative businesses #51

Openspace raises $102 million for its construction site data collection solution. Diamond Age raises $50M for its construction automation solution. Qairos Energies wants to produce hydrogen from hemp by 2025.

Openspace raises $102 million for its construction site data collection solution

With its $102 million Series D round of funding in March 2022, Californian startup Openspace is approaching unicorn status: it is now valued at $902 million, more than double the valuation of its previous round of funding in spring 2021.

Specialising in digital mapping technologies for the construction sector, Openspace has 180 employees. Its solution has already been deployed on 10,000 projects in 75 countries. The startup’s approach is to use 360° cameras mounted on construction helmets to capture a constant stream of photos of the construction project. The AI then uses the collected data to determine whether the project is on schedule, assess the progress of the various trades and answer various questions that may arise on a construction site, such as how much drywall has been installed in the past few weeks.

The solution is designed to be used by all parties on a site and the data integrates with project management platforms such as Procore, PlanGrid and Autodesk. OpenSpace’s subscription price is based on the overall value of the project, regardless of the total number of users or the amount of data collected.

Investors in Openspace include PSP Growth, the venture and growth capital arm of PSP Partners, as well as Alkeon Capital Management, GreenPoint Partners, JLL Spark and Menlo Ventures. New investors in this Series D round include Alpaca VC, Fischer Homes and funds managed by BlackRock. This round of financing will be used to accelerate the company’s development.

Diamond Age raises $50M for its construction automation solution

With its automated manufacturing processes, US startup Diamond Age promises to produce single-family homes in 30 days, compared to the usual seven months. With this promise, it has just raised $50m in Series A funding from Prime Movers Lab, Alpaca VC, Dolby Family Ventures, Timber Grove Ventures, Gaingels and Signia Venture Partners.  An undisclosed real estate developer also contributed 20% of the total funding. This round follows an initial seed round of $8 million, which took place in December 2020.

To speed up manufacturing times, the company’s engineers – many of whom come from Tesla – have appropriated tools from the automotive and industrial industries, with a concept of automated platforms, which allow multiple houses to be built at once, with a manoeuvrable robot at the centre. According to Diamond Age, these tools require only half the manpower normally used on building sites.

Like its competitor Icon, a pioneer in 3D printing and robotics in construction, Diamond Age uses concrete as its primary material. But it favours a standardised approach, rather than customisation: in each project, it partners with experienced builders to mass-produce three-bedroom houses. The startup’s ambition is to produce 250 homes per year by the end of 2023.


Qairos Energies wants to produce hydrogen from hemp by 2025

The startup Qairos Energies, based in Sarthe, has been developing a concept for producing green hydrogen and biomethane from locally grown hemp since 2019. To do so, it is supported by the University of Maine, the Le Mans technology transfer centre, the Catholic Institute of Arts and Crafts in Nantes and the University of Technology in Compiègne. With these partners, Quairos Energies has designed a technology based on the gasification of biomass: in the long term, this biomass pyrogasification process will make it possible to produce green hydrogen, heat and biomethane from hemp, but also from other crops.

Qairos is due to open its first plant in Trangé, near Le Mans, in 2025. The company says it has obtained guarantees from banks, investment funds, Bpifrance and local authorities, which should invest €25 million. This first plant will be a 40 GW demonstrator, which will create a synthesis gas used to produce green hydrogen or biomethane. The Commission de Régulation de l’Energie (CRE) has given the green light to the operation, in the framework of the “regulatory sandbox”.


And also:

CarbonWorks, a company specialising in the capture and recovery of CO2 using microalgae, raises €11 million — Widoobiz

Luxembourg-based Leko Labs raises $21m to develop “carbon negative” buildings — TechCrunch

In Germany, the construction equipment rental platform Flexcavo raises €8 million, the government supports it with €2.7 million — Tech.eu (8 million), Tech.eu (2.7 million)

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