Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

Why construction and engineering startups are building with Oracle

Cathy Traugot
Senior Writer

The construction and engineering (C + E) fields haven’t been known for their digital transformation efforts. Just a few years ago McKinsey Research put C + E second to the bottom of the list – right above hunting and agriculture. 

The industry is plagued with time and cost overruns. McKinsey’s research estimated that 98% of what it termed “megaprojects” suffer cost overruns of more than 30%.

77% are at least 40% late. 

“It’s a pretty bad situation. Productivity has actually declined in the construction sector,” says Burcin Kaplanoglu, vice president of Oracle Industry Innovation Labs. “The good news is that digitization and cloud usage are ramping up quickly.’’ 

Plenty of C + E startups are part of that digitization wave, eager to flip the narrative. And many of them are staging their new companies on Oracle, taking advantage of opportunities to use the cloud and integrate and co-sell with Oracle C + E products such as Primavera Cloud, Aconex, and Primavera Unifier

We invited several of these startups to join us for an C + E roundtable event in late 2020 to listen to the latest goings on in the industry. 

What we heard  

"I'm a firm believer that we need to use technology to solve the right problems,’’ explains roundtable participant Andrew Pestana, Innovation Strategy Manager, HS2 Ltd in the United Kingdom.

“Startups need to focus on not just throwing drones, VR or AI at a problem, but instead, exploring how these technologies are enablers of innovative solutions, saving time, money and yielding a better finished product.”

Three startups in particular from Oracle's startup program fit the bill. Representing many points of the startup journey - one in the earliest stages, one a mid-stage startup, and the third a graduate of our program that is now an Oracle partner - these startups are scaling up, their way. 

Speeding up facility development for healthcare

David Harper, Cofounder and CEO of ATLAS Group London, has helped build healthcare facilities around the world for more than 20 years. As he moved up the construction ladder, he realized just how inefficient the industry has become. 

But it was a 2014 visit to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya as part of the Gates Foundation/United Nations initiative that drove it home. Seeing how hard it was to get healthcare services to more remote areas around the world was the spark for ATLAS’ founding. 

The ATLAS digital platform (ICAS®) addresses scheduling issues and cost overruns with an elegant solution that interconnects the design, procurement and construction process into a single software platform creating a fully integrated supply chain. This makes it easier, faster and more cost-effective for customers to build healthcare facilities - at a time when healthcare is needed more than ever. It’s a solution that can help the developed world, as much as remote corners of the globe. 

“Put simply, if two people involved in the same project don’t have access to the same information at the same time, this can cause serious problems,” explains Harper, “It’s not unusual for problems to remain undiscovered until they’re actually part of the building, making remedial action both disruptive and very costly.”  

From rapid design of code-compliant facilities, to digitizing the procurement and logistics processes, to fast-tracking assembly and activation – ICAS® allows customers to leapfrog the competition and rapidly scale.   

The ATLAS cofounders chose Oracle Cloud for their platform and are working on integrating with Oracle products such as Primavera Unifier.

“Oracle’s support has been immense, and we’re excited for the next stages of our cooperation.” David says.

Hear David talk about ATLAS Group’s goals. 

Support makes the difference for concrete digitization startup

Burak Acilan doesn’t want to change the construction world – he just wanted to pour a better foundation. The founder of ConcR works with several German companies to embed sensors as concrete is poured to measure when it’s cured, and prevent construction delays. 

Acilan describes concrete pouring as the least digitized element at a construction site. ConcR’s sensors send back data on temperature and strength, replacing the more time-consuming process of sampling the concrete as it dries and sending those samples to a lab. 

“Even if you have bought material to make concrete from the same plant for years and followed the exact same casting process, you still have to test and document that the concrete has cured properly. It’s a lot of manual labor. If you gather and send this data automatically it reduces time spent by 30%,” Acilan says. 

Acilan wants to integrate his product’s data feeds into Oracle Primavera and Aconex. He’s used Primavera for years and knows its power. “When it comes to construction software, there are two companies who lead the market. One is Oracle.”

On working side-by-side with an industry leader, Acilan says, “We’re getting immense support.’’ 

Hear Acilan discuss the difficulties of concrete curing.

From scaling up to co-selling

Reconstruct was a founding member of the program that became Oracle for Startups. The company creates a digital twin of the construction site to help stakeholders see what has been accomplished in a given day or week, and what is left to do. They had just 10 employees when they began working with Oracle.

“Now we’ve got 45 people and, as a partner of Oracle, we’re selling globally,’’ says Mani Golparvar, Chief Technology Officer. Reconstruct has worked with companies like KBD Group, Walbridge and Clayco.

Construction projects typically measure progress with a mishmash of color-coded highlighter marks on printouts posted in the construction trailer. A clear picture of schedule setbacks is often a week behind. 

“We bring an element of transparency, one single source of the truth to see what is really happening – contrasting design against reality. We don’t want an entire week to go by before you see what the problems are,’’ Golparvar says.  

When Reconstruct joined the startup accelerator, their product was built on a different platform. “We transformed our platform, have a bidirectional integration with Primavera and an integration with Aconex.’’ 

Oracle supported Reconstruct along the way with marketing, business development, and technology. Today, “we’re co-selling with Oracle teams across the world.’’ 

Startup or scaleup, what can Oracle for Startups do for your company? Get in touch to find out. 

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