Bentley and Autodesk push ‘Digital Twin’ initiatives

Bentley Systems has established a US$100M business to invest in digital twin technologies, while Autodesk has launched a new product, Tandem, supporting digital twins.

Bentley iTwin Ventures

Bentley logo 2017For some years a champion of ‘digital twin’ thinking (see EE August 2019 post: Bentley pushes ‘Digital Twin’ into AEC mainstream), Bentley Systems has committed US$100M of venture funding to “accelerate infrastructure digital twins”. It has established Bentley iTwin Ventures to invest in promising technology companies addressing emerging opportunities for ‘digital twin’ solutions for highways, railways, waterways, bridges, utilities, industrial facilities, and other infrastructure assets.

Bentley iTwin Ventures is a US$100M corporate venture capital fund intended to foster innovation by co-investing in startups and emerging companies that are strategically relevant to Bentley Systems’ objective of advancing infrastructure through going digital. Bentley says the fund “will target investments in transformational digital twin solutions supporting the design, simulation, construction, and/or operations of physical infrastructure.” The fund will invest in opportunities which can leverage Bentley’s iTwin Platform and open-source toolkits, supporting subject matter expertise, commercial teaming, and/or global reach and relationships within the infrastructure engineering community.

Bentley CEO Greg Bentley says:

“Taking advantage of the momentum from Bentley Systems’ initial public offering [post], we are excited to expand our Acceleration Initiatives by formally launching the Bentley iTwin Ventures fund to support the growth of entrepreneurial companies dedicated to infrastructure digital twin solutions. Our iTwin Platform provides a scalable open-source foundation for technical and commercial innovation that will empower a vibrant ecosystem to creatively combine and connect what digital twins now make possible for infrastructure constituents. Proprietary analytics, data services, benchmarking, and infrastructure-as-a-service commercial models, for instance, are not in Bentley Systems’ direct scope, but we are glad to have a stake in bootstrapping these future successes….”

Bentley Systems worked with corporate venture capital firm Touchdown Ventures to establish Bentley iTwin Ventures.  An initial investment in Norway’s FutureOn was announced last month (16 October 2020) during the company’s Year In Infrastructure event (post).

Participation in Digital Twin Consortium

Digital Twin ConsortiumIn May 2020, Bentley joined the Digital Twin Consortium (news release), a US-based pan-industry body established to drive consistency in vocabulary, architecture, security and interoperability of digital twin technology. In October 2020, Autodesk also became a consortium member.

Update (16 December 2020) – Bentley has elevated its participation in the Digital Twin Consortium by becoming a founding member (news release). A groundbreaker member since the consortium’s launch in May 2020, Bentley will also become a member of the consortium’s steering committee. The company’s Casey Mullen has contributed his expertise as a lead author of the Digital Twin Consortium’s definition of a digital twin, unveiled on 3 December 2020:

“A digital twin is a virtual representation of real-world entities and processes, synchronized at a specified frequency and fidelity.

  • Digital twin systems transform business by accelerating holistic understanding, optimal decision-making, and effective action.
  • Digital twins use real-time and historical data to represent the past and present and simulate predicted futures.
  • Digital twins are motivated by outcomes, tailored to use cases, powered by integration, built on data, guided by domain knowledge, and implemented in IT/OT systems.”

Autodesk announces Tandem digital twin platform

autodesk logoAt this week’s virtual Autodesk University event, Autodesk has announced the future availability of Autodesk Tandem, a platform intended to “bring project data together from its many sources, formats, and phases, to create a data-rich digital hub that tracks asset data from design through operations – a digital twin”.

Autodesk Tandem ScreenshotAutodesk Tandem connects the digital world with the real world, creating an up-to-date reflection of a model’s physical self. This provides unique operational insight into a facility, building, bridge, or any structure, as well as its components, including, for example, the performance of heating and cooling systems, escalators, and electrical systems.

From design and through construction, the project delivery lifecycle of buildings, facilities, bridges, and other physical structures creates huge volumes of data – much of it disorganised and left unused after handover to owners and developers when the project is completed. Asset owners want digital data at handover given nearly 80 percent of an asset’s lifetime value is realized in operations.

Nicolas Mangon, Vice President, AEC Business Strategy, Autodesk, says:

“If the valuable information created during the design through construction phase disappears at handover, owners will lose money. Autodesk Tandem is a purpose-built tool that gives owners and operators greater insight into their completed project, so that they can make informed decisions to improve performance. We look forward to enrolling our customers into this beta.”

With Autodesk Tandem, all project models are brought into a single platform, creating a digital view of projects, along with metadata for each asset. Architects, engineers and contractors can then fully support the digital handover, giving owners a digital twin of the final asset so that they can dive into all design and construction history. Autodesk describes building informational modeling (BIM) as one of the foundational components of Autodesk Tandem.

Andrew AnagnostUpdate (19 November 2020) – Asked by EE about the company’s strategy to support owner-operators post-construction needs, Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost talked about digital twins and Tandem:

“Tandem right now, its main target is owners. It will absolutely provide value to architects and the whole entire process, especially as the technology matures, but right now it is absolutely looking at adding value to the owner’s workflow and enabling owners to have a viable, useful and meaningful digital twin that they can use to manage the lifecycle …. When you look at some of the partnerships we are creating, they are definitely aligned with trying to make sure that … any kind of view of the building extends well beyond the design process into the lifecycle of the building.”

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