RADAR – Our selection of innovative businesses #88

Swedish startup Aira aims to become the "Spotify of heat pumps", Agorus raises $20 million for its modular construction solution, US startup SafeAI and Japanese manufacturer Obayashi present the very first "retroffited" truck.

Swedish startup Aira wants to become the “Spotify of heat pumps” 

The Swedish startup Aira, which was founded in 2022 with the backing of the Swedish impact investor Vargas, has a rather unique ambition: it is looking to position itself as the Spotify of heat pumps,” helping 5 million households across Europe thanks to its subscription service model designed to helps customers quickly replace and switch from a gas boiler.  

Following on from a pilot scheme in Italy at the beginning of 2023, the startup is now looking to conquer a new market – Great Britain – and plans to launch in Germany thereafter. 

For a monthly payment and no upfront charge, the startup installs the kit in customers’ homes and then services the kit. They provide a 10-year guarantee service that households will enjoy 20°C comfort – even on the coldest days of the year. If a customer moves house, the contract can be passed on to the next owner, or pay the balance of the deal off with the proceeds from the sale. With this subscription model, Aira removes high upfront installation costs, which is the main hurdle for customers despite UK government grants available, as customers will instead pay back this cost over a fixed long-term period. 

Furthermore, to further solidify its ambitious aim, the company will be removing another hurdle: the lack of skilled installers. As such, it is planning to train 8,000 skilled installers in Great Britain, investing a huge sum in training academies over the next three years. The British government hopes that 600,000 electric heat pumps will be installed every year as part of its drive to reduce CO2 emissions. 


Californian startup Agorus raises $20 million for its modular construction solution

After previously raising $6.5 million in funding in March 2021, the American startup Agorus has just raised an additional $20 million in Series A funding led by Toyota Ventures, one of its previous backers. This now brings the total amount raised since the startup was founded in 2018 to $30 million.

The San Diego-based modular construction specialists have developed their own “panelized” approach in which they manufacture the walls, floors and roofs before assembling the lot on site. The startup promises to deliver a home in only 30 days, from the day the building permit is obtained to handing over the keys. In addition, Agorus has developed its own software platform to help customers with their home design. 

The company has already built 230 residential units in Arizona and California. The startup is planning to use new funds raised to expand production volume.


American startup SafeAI and Japanese construction company Obayashi unveil the first ever haul truck retrofitted to be autonomous and electric

Since 2017, SafeAI has been developing a technology to convert construction site equipment to be autonomous and electric, by using sensors, lidar and GPS data, as well as AI-powered algorithms on construction sites. Their aim? To retrofit existing equipment to bring  automation and electrification technology faster to building sites.

Their first retrofit has been applied to a haul truck, in partnership with the Japanese construction company Obayashi. The Caterpillar 725 truck is the first of its kind to undergo this transformation, making it both autonomous and electric-powered. 

SafeAI doesn’t intend to stop there: the company is already planning on deploying its technology in a gold mine in Australia, by equipping 100 trucks this year. Over the next five years, the company aims to retrofit between 2,000 to 3,000 trucks worldwide. To achieve this, the company has raised more than $64 million to date and has more than a hundred employees across the US, Japan, India and Australia. 


There’s more…

Former US construction tech unicorn Veev is acquired by Lennar – Read more at BuilderOnline

French startup Trincollect raises €5 million to replace traditional construction site skips – Read more in Les Echos

US startup Paintjet raises $10 million to automate painting jobs – Read more on Techcrunch

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