Autodesk spends US$1 billion on Innovyze

Autodesk completes its most expensive acquisition yet to buy US-based water industry software specialist, Innovyze.

autodesk logoEclipsing the US$875 million invested in Plangrid in 2018 (post), Autodesk has today announced a US$1 billion deal to acquire Portland, Oregon-based Innovyze, a global leader in water infrastructure software. Autodesk says the acquisition positions it as a technology leader in end-to-end water infrastructure solutions from design to operations, and accelerates Autodesk’s digital twin strategy.

Announcing the deal alongside Colby Manwaring, Innovyze’s CEO, Amy Bunszel (Autodesk’s executive vice president, AEC design solutions) said it also constituted Autodesk’s “first big push into the operations market.” Digital Twins got mentioned a few times during the press conference – two days after Autodesk launched the public beta of its Tandem Digital Twin Platform (see also November 2020 post: Bentley and Autodesk push ‘Digital Twin’ initiatives).


Innovyze logoFor 35 years, 240-strong Innovyze has been developing software for the water industry and now has approximately 3,000 customers worldwide, including water and sewerage utilities, river and flood protection authorities professional services businesses and industrial water consumers. Its UK customers include Anglian Water (also an Autodesk customer), Thames Water, the Environment Agency, and engineering services businesses such as AECOM, Arup, Atkins, Jacobs and Stantec (all also Autodesk customers).

Innovyze’s modelling, simulation, and predictive analysis solutions enable more cost-effective and sustainably designed water distribution networks, water collection systems, water and wastewater treatment plants, and flood protection systems. These solutions include the December 2020-launched Info360: “a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform,, which enables water and wastewater utilities to monitor, analyze, and optimize their operations using the power and convenience of the cloud” (and which has a product name also echoing Autodesk’s own BIM 360).

Autodesk says: “Combining Innovyze’s portfolio with the power of Autodesk’s design and analysis solutions, including Autodesk Civil 3D, Autodesk InfraWorks, and the Autodesk Construction Cloud, offers civil engineers, water utility companies and water experts the ability to better respond to issues and to improve planning.”

Autodesk Innovyze portfolio

Bunzl talked about the nine trillion gallons of water lost each year worldwide due to prolonged leaks and pipe breaks:

“But we cannot manage or fix what we cannot see. Innovyze’s portfolio of operational analytics, distribution modeling, and asset management solutions provides the insight needed to identify this and other potential problems before they become a crisis.”

Colby Manwaring said:

Colby Manwaring, Innovyze CEO“For thirty-five years Innovyze has been a hidden part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world, helping to deliver fresh, clean water, managing sewage and flooding in our communities, and turning wastewater into safe water. Similarly, if you look at the built world around us, Autodesk’s design DNA is found in just about every structure you see above ground and below, so it makes strategic sense to bring together our complementary organizations critical to much of the world’s population. We look forward to completing the acquisition and getting to work, together.”

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Combining BIM 360 and Plangrid, new Autodesk Build launched

Autodesk combines the best of its BIM 360 and Plangrid applications to launch a unified AEC project and field management solution, Autodesk Build.
Autodesk Construction Cloud

Autodesk Build, the US software giant’s new project and field management solution (and now part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud launched in November 2019 – post) is now generally available, following through on its 2020 Autodesk University intention to reshape its Cloud offering (November 2020 post). Autodesk says Build provides construction teams with a single solution for project management, quality, safety, cost and close-out by connecting data, workflows and teams in one highly-configurable environment, unifiying features from BIM 360 and PlanGrid and adding new capabilities.

The mobile-oriented Plangrid was acquired by Autodesk in November 2018 (post), building information modelling (BIM) capabilities via a Plangrid integration with Revit were added six months later (post), and in June 2019 Jim Lynch, today Construction Solutions Senior Vice President and General Manager, confirmed that Plangrid and BIM 360 “will start to merge and will become one sometime in the future“ (post). Less than two years later, that ‘sometime’ appears to be now – though EE understands Autodesk will continue supporting both programs and has no plans to force users to switch to Autodesk Build.

Autodesk US main contractor customer Ted Jennings, senior VDC manager of Barton Malow Holdings, says:

“Our teams need the right technology to achieve outstanding results. By bringing together the best of BIM 360 and PlanGrid and adding even more project management firepower, Autodesk Build is both a simple and robust solution. Connecting our teams and data across projects allows us to supercharge our work with more streamlined document, safety and cost management, and deliver on our quality standards.”

Autodesk Build

Autodesk BuildA free 30-day trial is available. According to Autodesk, the Autodesk Build product enables architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) teams to:

  • Manage projects more efficiently – Teams can configure workflows within Autodesk Build so those who need access to information such as RFIs, submittals, meeting minutes and daily reports can do so at any stage of a project. With the relevant workflow data instantly at their fingertips, project managers can readily analyse activities and make data-driven decisions to keep projects on track. Information from all project workflows is immediately connected in Autodesk Docs, the common data environment (CDE), to simplify overall project management.
  • Maximise cross-team collaboration – Autodesk Build facilitates real-time collaboration between the field and office, enabling teams to manage project quality from their desktops, laptops and smart mobile devices, and keep everyone engaged in jobsite safety. The PlanGrid Build app, purpose-built for mobile field collaboration and included in Autodesk Build, empowers the field to stay connected to the latest quality planning, punchlist and issue management, as well as perform quality assurance and quality control tasks. Field and office teams can also manage safety planning, training, observations and inspections from the Autodesk Build platform to keep sites productive and safe.
  • Digitise and centralise document management – Autodesk Build consolidates document management and provides a single source of truth to ensure all team members across the construction project lifecycle can access the correct information they need when they need it, regardless of whether they’re in the office or field. Document control, versioning and approval capabilities that support 2D sheets, 3D models and easy-to-share markups help keep everyone on the same page to minimise miscommunications and avoidable mistakes that can lead to rework.
  • Streamline cost management – A configurable and connected cost management module in Autodesk Build helps teams keep track of any budget changes from one main location. Teams can manage budget creation and contract administration, change orders, cost forecasts and payment applications alongside a real-time view of project health to make informed decisions and mitigate risks to project costs.

In the Construction Cloud

As part of Autodesk Construction Cloud, a subscription to Autodesk Build costs from £46 per calendar month (based on a small team sharing 550 sheets per month – see pricing). It includes and is reinforced by:

  • Autodesk Docs – A centralized document management solution that underpins Autodesk Build’s CDE, providing users with seamless navigation and integrated workflows to create a single source of truth across the project lifecycle.
  • Insights – Analytics capabilities that support the ability to collect, interpret and export project data; encompasses Construction IQ artificial intelligence to identify and mitigate risk.
  • Administration – Project setup tools including centralized user management and permissioning capabilities, templates and single-sign-on.

Autodesk has also made announcements around its cloud collaboration solutions for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) design teams: Autodesk Docs is now also included in the AEC Collection, BIM 360 Design is now Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro and Autodesk BIM Collaborate is now available globally.

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US-based SmartPM continues to grow

US-based schedule analytics business, SmartPM, continues to grow, “despite the challenges the pandemic has presented in the marketplace”.

SmartPM logoSome six years ago (January 2015 post), in a brief technology round-up, Extranet Evolution mentioned a US start-up, SmartPM Technologies. Today, the Atlanta, GA-based schedule analytics business says it is continuing to grow, “despite the challenges the pandemic has presented in the marketplace”.

The company says it closed another round of seed funding (US$785K) in record time at the end of 2020, and saw its greatest gains in new customers in December 2020, tripling its sales revenue. Additionally, the company plans to hire a number of new employees throughout 2021. Michael Pink, founder and CEO, says:

“We are thrilled at the growth we have achieved this year and grateful to the many clients who put their trust in SmartPM, as we increased our customer base by 250%. We also couldn’t be where we are without our investors and are positioned for a continuation of rapid growth in 2021.”

SmartPM serves businesses mainly in the US construction industry including general contractors, owners and owne-2019, r’s representatives, developer/builders, government entities, and some prominent insurance and consulting firms.

SmartPM product

SmartPMLaunched in mid-2019, the business’s SmartPM product is said to be “the only cloud-based, schedule analytics software solution designed specifically for the construction industry. It is a first-of-its-kind, full-service project analytics system that extracts information from native schedule files [Primavera P6 and MS Project] and converts it into meaningful insights, which ultimately minimizes risk of cost exposure related to delays and overruns. SmartPM was designed by industry experts with one mission in mind: to provide stakeholders with the tools necessary to effectively control costs and schedules, and to keep projects off the path toward disputes.”

(EE covered some other project controls platforms in November 2018, following a Glimpse of the Future event in London. Incidentally, another ‘Glimpse’ is scheduled for 11 February 2021register here.)

Pricing-wise, the basic dashboard analytics SmartPM product costs US$69 per calendar month per project (paid annually); the more richly featured Premium product costs US$167pcm, and ‘Extremium’ is priced at US$250pcm.

Procore logoLike 3D Repo (previous post), SmartPM is also integrated with the Procore project management platform, providing stakeholders with seamless access to SmartPM’s Project Oversight, Schedule Monitoring, and Forensic Delay Analysis capabilities directly from within the Procore system.

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3D Repo launches 3D Send

UK-based SaaS platform developer 3D Repo has launched a new model-sharing platform, 3D Send, speeding up secure sharing of BIM outputs.

3D-Repo-Logo-BlueLondon-based built environment Software-as-a-Service platform developer 3D Repo has launched a new simple and secure platform, 3D Send, that enables users to share and view building information models without needing to download them first.

3D Send

3D Send logo3D Send has been developed to allow architects, engineers, construction professionals, hobbyists, or anyone else to instantly share a 3D model. Models can be previewed in a web browser or downloaded to use with recipient’s favourite applications without a requirement for sign-in or registration.

Jozef DobosJozef Dobos, CEO at 3D Repo, right, said:

“Sharing 3D models can be a slow process and with everyone using different software and file types it can be a laborious task. 3D Send streamlines this process including offering a preview option, democratising model data so you can share models with absolutely anyone you need to.”

Rob Jackson, associate director at Sheffield, UK-headquartered architect Bond Bryan Digital, said:

“At Bond Bryan Digital, all our processes and tools use open standards for information exchange, particularly Industry Foundation Classes and BIM Collaboration Format. 3D Send offers us an incredibly quick and simple method for sharing models with clients, contractors, consultants and other stakeholders. It allows them to view models using these open standards in a web browser without having to download and install any software.”

Apartment via 3D Send3D Send users can share unlimited numbers of models, up to 500MB at a time. Files are stored safely and securely until they have been downloaded for up to 14 days using 3D Repo security. 3D Repo has independent verification via BSI to achieve the highest standards of information security, privacy, and management processes and controls.

Dobos continues:

“Now more than ever we are relying on quick technological solutions to keep projects on time. 3D Send avoids delay by sourcing the right viewer and encouraging collaboration between the project team.”

Procore integration with 3D Repo

Procore logoIn other 3D Repo-related news, SaaS project management platform vendor Procore announced an integration with 3D Repo last month, facilitated by the two organisations’ open APIs (application programming interfaces). Where the two products are used on the same project, Procore users can access their 3D Repo models and perform model validation, comparison, and metadata analysis from inside Procore.

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UK’s iSite acquired by 7FC

One-time Styles & Wood subsidiary, iSite (formerly StoreData) has been acquired by a London-based ERP vendor, 7FC, and relaunched.

iSite logo 2018The commercial real estate platform iSite, based in Nottingham, has been acquired by 7FC, a London-based digital transformation agency specialising in ERP systems (working with partners Microsoft and Oracle, among others). The move expands 7FC’s portfolio of software. It says (news release) it is aiming to become a leader in the future of property management technology.

Arfah Malik, a partner at 7FC with over a decade of experience working in property management, saw a demonstration of iSite while working with a multinational retailer: “When I saw the iSite demonstration, I realised it could do what it took four separate systems at that company to achieve – all in one platform. Its data model and security are the most advanced I’ve ever seen.”

“A fantastic product to acquire”

Carl Moore (iSite CEO)Carl Moore, managing partner at 7FC (and also the new iSite CEO), right, says:

“iSite has had over £18 million in development invested over the last 19 years, and you can see that in the codebase – it was a fantastic product to acquire. And it was already being used by some of the world’s biggest retail companies, which showed us the brand had stability. Now, with new management from 7FC, there’s the opportunity to expand beyond retail – into verticals like finance, healthcare, estate agents and hotels.”

As part of the acquisition, 7FC has coordinated a relaunch of the iSite brand, working to streamline the company and extend its product offering to a wider market. Capitalising on its history in the Nottingham area, 7FC says it has retained iSite’s long-standing software experts, bringing with them decades of combined experience using and optimising the platform. Matt Allen, solution engineer at iSite, says:

“We’re excited to see where the iSite platform goes under 7FC’s direction. There’s so much enthusiasm and investment behind the software, and 7FC’s investment means we can take that energy into brand new markets.”

iSite backstory

The 7FC deal is the latest chapter in iSite’s 20-year history as an information technology provider in the construction and property sector. It was founded in Nottingham by Martin Ward in 2001 and operated for many years as a division of UK office and retail fit-out contractor Styles & Wood. Its customers included Nationwide Building Society and supermarket retailers Tesco, the Co-op and Morrison’s, among others, and until April 2010 (post), it traded as StoreData, hinting at its retail connections.

During the 2000s, StoreData was competing against a host of other UK collaboration technology vendors, building on a bespoke platform initially developed from the Union Square Workspace product. By 2006, its turnover had reached £1.594m (2007 post). This figure placed it some distance behind then Software-as-a-Service rivals such as BIW, 4Projects and Business Collaborator (all since acquired – BIW is now part of Oracle Aconex, 4Projects is now part of Trimble, and GroupBC was acquired by Bentley Systems in March 2020) but it was then ahead of Asite (today, the last major UK-based independent AEC SaaS collaboration vendor).

StoreData to iSite

iSiteHowever, the global financial crisis and the resulting recession in the late 2000s prompted something of a financial shake-up across the sector; in 2009 Storedata’s revenues were £1.222m (post), and it wasn’t until 2011 that the business now known as iSite surpassed the 2007 figure, reporting revenues of £1.46m (post). Revenue growth faltered again before growing to £1.84m  in 2014, and the company looked on course to top £2m  in 2015 when a change in parent Styles & Wood’s corporate reporting practices obscured its progress.

iSite AssetologyIn the meantime, in 2012, iSite had launched a cloud-based facilities management solution branded as “The Hub”, launching an award-winning “Assetology” product campaign (post).

Towards the end of 2017, Styles & Wood was acquired by interiors firm Southerns Group, and it updated its corporate identity and website (post). Within a year both iSite and Styles & Wood has been moved into a larger property services group called Extentia, alongside a risk management software business, Arctick. However, in February 2020, Extentia placed Styles & Wood in administration, blaming cash flow issues that had become too difficult to sustain. And iSite and Arctick were then also placed into administration as part of the Extentia Group’s own collapse (see May 2020 updated EE post, New owners for iSite … then administration). 7FC then acquired the business from the administrators in December 2020, though it had by this time already lost Martin Ward (who, after a spell at UK contractor ISG, Extranet Evolution understands is now a strategic advisor to another software business targeting the construction sector).

Updated (8 February 2021) – Ward commented:

“It takes a huge amount of courage on all sides to recover a business out of administration and a credit to those at 7FC and iSite.  iSite was created with a clear vision: to provide clients with the visibility of every aspect of property in one place – design, estates, development, change, maintenance etc – regardless of which industry silo it originated from. I am sure, given the post-COVID world and inevitable real estate shake up that will ensue, they will be well placed to prosper.”

iSite relaunch

Update (9 February 2021) – iSite (news release) is highlighting its product’s relaunch and says it will see iSite work with verticals like petrol forecourts, estate agents, healthcare, finance and hospitality. Carl Moore said:

“A product like iSite is essential for anyone managing multiple assets. But for compliance-heavy businesses, such as petrol forecourts, it’s even more important – and the relaunch is going to help companies like that solve challenges with compliance. Because it’s a different ball game when you’re filling petrol tankers up in forecourts, where you’ve got a lot of certification compliance to keep up with. That’s what iSite can do: it keeps your investment portfolio in check and makes sure you’re doing the planned maintenance your assets require.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the iSite team will also be looking at helping organisations free themselves from properties that are no longer performing. Partner Arfah Malik says:

“In retail right now, a business might have a large number of open leases, some of which are decades old. In a time when reducing losses is more important than ever, iSite will help you identify those inefficient assets and streamline your property portfolio.”

iSite LiteiSite Lite

The relaunch comes alongside the release of iSite Lite, a scaled-back version of the full iSite platform, which is designed to make the software more accessible to growing businesses. The Lite platform will also be able to help struggling companies better manage their property portfolio in the aftermath of the pandemic.

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Weather risk management platform EHAB raises investment

EHAB, a UK-based weather risk management platform that helps construction companies reduce the cost of  weather interruptions, has raised further funding. 

EHAB logoEnglish start-up, EHAB aims to help construction companies identify and plan for weather-related risks using decades’ worth of weather data.  Its distributed ledger (blockchain) technology platform connects construction schedules produced in Primavera P6 to historic weather data and identify opportunities to avoid risk and squeeze more time from construction programmes. Construction businesses can also track how their teams react to and deal with weather impacts on your construction projects. EHAB says it can also help businesses work with their insurance brokers to optimise portfolio protection from extreme weather by building a parametric cover tailored to balance risk with reward across different geographies.

EHAB has worked with partners including Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall looking to automate the way they deal with weather risk and optimise their construction operations. EHAB aims to expand beyond existing partners and grow in the United States and countries across Europe. 

EHAB is building a ‘weather ledger’ using digital technology on construction sites. On average, project duration is extended by 21%, potentially costing contractors millions in lost profit across their portfolios.  EHAB says it can offer smarter contracts by deploying a weather station onsite that records hyper-local weather information and triggers thresholds that automate contractual obligations the contractor has to its client. This reduces unnecessary paperwork and removes the likelihood of disputes

The platform also provides enhanced planning, using the Gantt chart that construction companies have for a project to identify where there is weather risk embedded in their schedule and avoid weather-related delay. 

EHAB fund-raising

First mentioned on Extranet Evolution in March 2019 (post), EHAB has successfully raised several rounds of funding. In October 2020, it raised £340,000 in a pre-seed raise led by Insurtech Gateway, alongside Startup Funding Club, Lan to Capital and LEFA Enterprises (news), and it has now augmented that with a £150,000 investment through Suss Ventures, an investor matching service at Sussex Innovation.

EHAB founder Josh Graham (right) said:

Josh Graham (EHAB)“There is a huge impact of the weather on construction companies and at the moment they don’t really have strategies to tackle this. EHAB will play a huge part in accelerating the industry’s digital transformation. Given the increase in extreme weather events globally, there is an increasing need for construction companies to take the weather seriously. We’re giving these companies a tool to scientifically delve into the numbers and understand when, where and how the weather could disrupt their construction site. With the help of Suss Ventures, we were able to raise even more money than we originally planned.” 

“Seeking investment was a very tough journey, taking six months. A genuine compliment to Suss Ventures was that it was the easiest part of our investment round when we were looking for another investor to work with.”  

Sussex InnovationSuss Ventures is the investor matching service of Sussex Innovation, a business incubator owned by the University of Sussex which works with start-ups and scale-ups to help them understand their market and grow their businessSince 2019, Suss Ventures has welcomed over 100 innovative founders and active investors into its community. Nigel Lambe, CEO at Sussex Innovation, said:

“We’re proud to help businesses like EHAB innovate the weather intelligence space, by matching them with the right financial partners for sustainable development. Suss Ventures is an important part of our commitment at Sussex Innovation to help high-growth, mission-led businesses succeed and understand their market better.” 

 EHAB will be launching its product in April 2020. Get early access to the platform at 

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NBS’s new owner Byggfakta buys Glenigan

Byggfakta is acquiring Glenigan, the UK-based provider of construction and property business intelligence and data analytics, in its second UK deal in late 2020.

Norway-based Byggfakta Group has swiftly followed up on its first UK acquisition – of Newcastle-based construction technology and product data provider NBS in November 2020 (post) – by announcing on 15 December that it is buying Glenigan, the Bournemouth, Dorset-based provider of construction and property business intelligence and data analytics, for £72.9m (c. €81m or US$99m), subject to to European Commission Competition Approval.

Byggfakta Stefan LindqvistCEO of Byggfakta Group, Stefan Lindqvist, right, says: “Glenigan is the UK’s leading company in construction project information, which is a core business for us, and a company that we have followed for a long time. We see great opportunities to launch new services and products in the markets where we are present today by using each other’s strengths. Glenigan is important to us in our efforts to become Europe’s leading player in digitizing the construction and real estate industries.”

Glenigan was owned by FTSE 250-listed information, data and analytics company Ascential, but Glenigan was not aligned with its strategic priorities in digital commerce. In 2019, Glenigan generated revenue of £12.2m; adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization before allocation of central costs was £6.8m.

Glenigan logoGlenigan’s managing director, Vicci McEwen, says: “Ascential has been a happy home for us but joining the Byggfakta group will be a game changer. Byggfakta have a wealth of experience and success running lead businesses, just like ours, right across Europe and they truly understand our business model.  Byggfakta is the home that I genuinely believe is the right one for Glenigan.”

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Aerial data capture by Nearmap

In 12 years, Nearmap has grown from a Western Australian aerial imagery startup into a AU$106M business with extensive operations in the US.

Nearmap logoFounded by Stuart Nixon in Perth, Western Australia, in 2008, Nearmap provides a cost-effective and high resolution aerial photography alternative to data from satellite imagery services such as Google Earth or drone-captured images. Nearmap deploys digital cameras in aircraft, taking various formats of photographs including vertical and oblique, then its software stitches the imagery together into seamless digital maps which can be published online in a matter of days.

Nearmap backstory

Extranet Evolution first mentioned Nearmap in November 2010 (post), when Australian software vendor Incite added geo-location services to its fast-developing project collaboration platform, Keystone. Nearmap allowed it to deliver relevant project data displayed on a map with a timeline that enabled users to view progress over time. On infrastructure projects, this Nearmap integration, which also used OpenStreetMap, would help construction professionals in the field to quickly find key locations such as service access chambers or the locations of soil compaction tests. However, the parent company pulled the plug on Keystone’s development in February 2011 (St Valentine’s Day massacre leaves Incite almost out-of-sight), the product was rebranded later that year, and the once-promising technology business was eventually sold off to Aconex in 2015 (Aconex CIMIC deal absorbs SaaS rival).

Kit Revell, NearmapMeanwhile, in 2012, following acquisition by Ipernica, Nearmap became listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, ASX, and moved its headquarters to Sydney. Two years later, it expanded into the United States, and in 2017 it expanded its Australasian operations by surveying cities in New Zealand, and adding 3D textured mesh models of Australia’s major cities.

Kit Revell, Nearmap’s senior director of sales, right, says Nearmap today regularly captures aerial imagery across large areas of the United States, primarily across its most populous regions. It has offices in Utah and New York, but most of its software development is still undertaken in Sydney, where the majority of the company’s 300-strong workforce are based. 

High-resolution imagery and mapping

Revell told Extranet Evolution that, unlike most rival imagery providers, Nearmap will overfly its terrain several times a year (up to six times a year in some urban centres), enabling it to capture ground details when trees have shed their leaves as well as when they are in leaf (“useful for arborists who want to check trees’ rates of growth”), and providing imagery that shows the evolution of landscapes and urban areas over time.

Nearmap aerial view of Illinois expresswayCustomers subscribe to access Nearmap imagery and geospatial mapping online; they can select areas for export and then import the files into their chosen GIS or design platforms. Customers range across sectors including insurance, government, property and real estate, roofing, solar power, telecommunications, and architecture, engineering and construction. Revell says Nearmap offers more accurate imagery than satellite, and quicker, more extensive and economical coverage than might be captured by drone-mounted cameras (UK contractor Balfour Beatty recently used drones to produce 3D mapping of the M25 London orbital motorway, capturing 85,000 over 30 days – link) or LIDAR services. While content captured by static site-based cameras (for example, see Evercam : site imagery, AI and BIM) might be just as effective on a small site, Nearmap potentially provides a better alternative for long, linear infrastructure projects, or for schemes that are still in the pre-project planning phases.

Nearmap’s technology was demonstrated during Autodesk University in November 2020 (link). It highlighted ways that its aerial content, 3D imagery, and a growing suite of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities could be used to improve the quality of AEC proposals, designs and visualisations. The high-resolution imagery (“Nearmap Vertical consistently offers 2.2-3in [c 53-72mm] resolution”) clearly shows urban features, including trampolines and swimming pools in back gardens, solar panels, construction equipment, concrete structures, street lighting, etc. Nearmap’s AI is being deployed to differentiate between different types of surfaces (pervious vs impervious) and to recognise a growing number of common features.

Growth and partnerships

In the year to 30 June 2020, the company generated annual subscription revenues of Au$106 million (c £60 m, US$80 m, or €66 m) from over 10,000 subscriptions. Around two thirds of its revenues are derived from the Australasian market, but the company is gradually spreading further afield. For some of its US-based customers, the company has also started mapping parts of Canada, and Revell says it plans to expand its Asia Pacific operations as well as looking at other international market opportunities.

Just as it was by Incite a decade ago, the company’s data is also utilised by other software providers. Nearmap imagery can be brought into industry-leading third-party applications through API, WMS, MapBrowser Export, and ArcGIS Online Marketplace via various integration partners. Platform partners include Bentley, Cesium, ESRI and Autodesk, and the company also has an OEM program for solution providers to white-label or embed Nearmap content into their offerings.

PlexEarth imageAlso at Autodesk University 2020, Greece-based Plexscape announced that its AutoCAD plugin PlexEarth was switching from sole reliance on Google Earth, adding imagery from Nearmap, plus Airbus, Maxar and Hexagon (link).

Plexscape CEO Lambros Kaliakatsos says: “Google Earth has been great but bigger and better things are available, and to build a better world our engineers deserve them.”

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RedSky set to launch Project Connect platform

RedSky launches project collaboration platform, Project Connect, claiming potential 30-60% total cost savings against competing solutions.

UK-based RedSky is set to launch a cloud-based construction document and process management platform, Project Connect, targeting its core market of small to medium-sized contractor customers.

RedSky backstory

Formed in 1978 and based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, RedSky (until 2005 known as Ramesys – post) is a long-standing provider of on-premise and hosted software solutions – mainly integrated financial and contract/project accounting solutions – to the construction sector in the UK and the Middle East. It was acquired by Canada’s Explorer Software Group in 2007.

RedSky is today part of the portfolio of Vancouver, Canada-based JDM Technology Group, a brand created in August 2014 when Explorer was rebranded. JDM’s current North American brands include: construction management tools Explorer Software, Computer Guidance and JOBPOWER and Maestro Technologies; maintenance management software Mpulse, MICROMAIN, EPAC  and Teamworks; and estimating tools  ConEst, Vision InfoSoft, and IndustrySmarts. In Europe, as well as RedSky, JDM includes Integrity Software, Estimate and Rendra AS (provider of StreamBIM software), while Australasian group companies include more construction management software vendors: CSSP (acquired in 2011 – post), LEVESYS, Nimbus, Plusfactor and CostCon.

RedSky Project Connect

The RedSky product range includes a Project Information Management module intended to complement other RedSky software. However, Project Connect can both complement existing applications and offer a rapidly implemented solution for any business wanting to heighten project information visibility. According to managing director Phil Kent, right:

Phil Kent, MD of RedSkyBuilt on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, RedSky Project Connect offers an affordable, light-touch way for companies to integrate key business management applications with information from ongoing projects, sharing best practice and avoiding ‘double-handling’ of data. … We hope that project teams will reduce time and costs by replicating best practice across their entire project portfolio and reap the often small but incremental and cumulative gains from digital transformation.”

Commercial director Mohammad Daudi (who was at 4Projects/Viewpoint from 2010 to 2017) says Project Connect is intended to be “a robust, standalone, multi-tenanted solution that will offer project collaboration out of the box” (register here to be updated on the product’s launch).

RedSky Project ConnectAppraising the UK market, Daudi believes many small to mid-sized contractors are deterred by high-end ‘Common Data Environment’ (CDE) platforms geared to the needs of Tier 1 firms. Project Connect provides a simple-to-use platform that can be used intuitively by anyone used to working with a Windows Explorer-type interface via a standard web-browser.

Once logged-in, authorised users are presented with an initial landing page (with a sub-menu of Approvals, Project Documents, Forms, and Project Tasks), a dashboard showing various headline reporting modules  as well as Today’s Documents. By clicking on a document or drawing, the user is able to open it in a viewer for comparison to another version, annotation or red-lining, and any changes are then tracked. Usefully, the viewer also displays a thumbnail view of the file displaying relevant metadata: tags, notifications, security settings, etc.

RedSky Project Connect mobile - site diaryThe browser-delivered platform can also support use via tablets and smartphones, with a responsively designed interface reshaping according to the device’s screen-size and orientation. This makes it a platform that can help connect site, site office and company back office, says Daudi.

Knowing contractors’ heavy reliance on forms to manage expenses, site incidents, new starters, observations, snagging/defects, site diaries and – of late – COVID-19 safe operating procedures, Project Connect can also be used to quickly replicate any paper-based or spreadsheet-based forms or templates. Fields can quickly be configured to help end-users capture site data that can then be reported and summarised (eg: number, open, closed) by the platform’s reporting tools.

Project Connect pricing

As well as believing over-complex CDE products often deter SME contractor customers, Daudi also believes their subscription pricing approaches – often based on a fixed percentage of the customer’s turnover or a percentage of a project’s capital value – can also be off-putting. Project Connect is set to be offered to customers on a model allowing all system users, including subcontractor users, to access any number of projects for a fixed monthly fee which, after 12 months, will be significantly reduced (just 25% of the first year cost) to reward continued use. Daudi, right, says:

Mohammad Daudi, of RedSky“We think that a lower total cost of ownership of the platform will be an irresistible offer to our customers. If project managers believe that they must have a collaboration system and budgetary constraints exist, then being more selective and taking a closer look at lower-cost offerings like RedSky Project Connect could make sense.”

Extranet Evolution perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated adoption of digital platforms across the construction sector, particularly where many previously office-based staff have had to work from home. Solutions which can be quickly deployed via the web and which are accessible on mobile devices will therefore be a key part of many companies’ business continuity strategies.

RedSky’s Project Connect therefore fills a SaaS gap in its offering to its core UK, Ireland and Middle East contractor customers, while also potentially appealing to new customers. The pricing model avoids large up-front costs, and the long-term reduced fee may well appeal in a market renowned for its low profit margins; construction project leaders are often keen to keep IT overheads low. Some contractors’ workloads will also be affected by the pandemic-induced forecast downturn in some parts of the construction market (eg: retail, leisure projects), and UK construction output is not forecast to return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2022, so the reduced price offer may be something to consider as project leaders look beyond the next 12 months.

The application’s Windows-like interface for the desktop will not win any design awards, but the folders-type navigation, along with the capability to easily design and incorporate familiar-looking forms (even complex ones), will reduce user training, familiarisation time, and aid end-user adoption – and the mobile forms look very intuitive. However, RedSky is also competing against other SaaS vendors with solutions arguably also geared to the needs of SME contractors, including Procore, BuilderStorm, Fonn, LetsBuild and Sherlayer.

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NBS acquired by Byggfakta

UK-based construction technology and product data provider NBS has been acquired by the Byggfakta Group, in a deal that also secures RIBA’s long-term future.

Byggfakta Group logoNBS, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK-based construction technology provider has been acquired by the Byggfakta Group, a leading Scandinavia-based data and software provider to the European construction industry. The deal (value undisclosed) has been backed by private equity firms Stirling Square Capital Partners and TA Associates – a familiar name among construction technology backers, having previously invested in Newcastle-based Viewpoint (2014 post), Germany’s thinkproject (2017 post), and (2013-16) in US-based real estate tech vendor Accruent,* who later acquired another Tyneside business, Kykloud, in January 2018 (post).

NBS logoThe NBS backstory

Until June 2018 a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIBA Enterprises, NBS has been actively involved in electronic publishing and then software projects since the 1990s (see September 2020 post: NBS Chorus, Uniclass and CDEs). Initially, it extended its conventional ‘National Building Specification’ publishing activities to produce electronic resources for architects and other designers and specifiers. In parallel, it was also commissioned in 1997 to develop a classification system – today known as Uniclass 2015 – which helps industry professionals find different types of related information defined by their subject matter. This is kept under review and updated quarterly under NBS’s stewardship, and has been adopted in Canada and Australia. The company has established country offices in Alberta and Melbourne; it acquired Canada’s Digicon in January 2017, and earlier this week (23 November 2020: news) announced the acquisition of SCL Schumann, a consultancy firm which has also developed a specialist software tool Ezyspec.

NBS Chorus devicesNBS has also developed its own BIM object library (the NBS National BIM Library), and was part of a consortium which developed the ‘BIM toolkit’ (see Why the UK BIM toolkit is a key building block, October 2014). In August 2018, NBS launched its first cloud-based software, NBS Chorus (post), and its product data, including the BIM library, now forms part of online offering, NBS Source. Earlier in 2018, LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Bank invested £31.8m for a significant minority shareholding in NBS.

According to NBS, its platform “brings construction specifiers, manufacturers and contractors together, to improve the quality of project decision making, drive product specification and provide critical insights, through a unique digital toolset.” It says NBS will remain a prominent brand in the construction space, while “increased investment will boost product development and international expansion plans”. It will also continue a long-standing partnership with the RIBA on the delivery of the RIBA CPD Providers’ Network.

NBS executive chairman Colin Smith, right, says:

Colin Smith“We are delighted to be joining the Byggfakta Group. 2020 saw an acceleration of technology adoption in the construction sector, which is set to continue for years to come. NBS has benefited from this trend and will continue to keep pushing ahead of the curve. Partnering with Byggfakta Group and its investors is an exciting development that will give us the support we need to scale up further and faster. NBS will be taking its products to new markets and will continue to improve its offering to existing customers.

“We will continue serving our customers with our existing products and services, but with the reach of a significant industry player and substantial financial backing. 2021 will be extremely exciting as we push on with new developments and enter into new markets.”

Byggfakta’s first UK deal

The NBS acquisition marks Byggfakta Group’s first expansion to the UK and follows recent investments in Portugal’s Vortal (an eSourcing and eProcurement platform) and Switzerland’s Olmero (a provider of tendering, project management, defects management and BIM tools). The Group also has offices in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Spain. It says the NBS investment will help the group to broaden its scope both geographically and functionally, and to strengthen its position as a data and technology provider.

Byggfakta Stefan LindqvistByggfakta Group CEO Stefan Lindqvist, right, said:

“We have long known about and admired NBS and its unique position in the UK construction market. With the support of RIBA and LDC, and under Colin’s leadership, NBS has become an attractive, SaaS-native technology vendor and we are excited to welcome the company, its employees, and its customers into the Byggfakta family.”

RIBA president Alan Jones said:

“The RIBA founded NBS, and alongside LDC, we are proud to have played a key role in developing it into a thriving business offering exceptional products and services. This transaction secures the RIBA’s long-term future and supports our ongoing work on behalf of members and the architects’ profession in the UK and internationally.”

(* Thanks to Steve Hamil for that tip.)

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