Suffolk Update 04/02/24

Suffolk Technologies Launches the Conversation about AI Impact on the Built Environment

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to have an impact on daily lives, business, and the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. To explore ways AI is transforming the AEC industry, Suffolk Technologies recently hosted AI + Design in the Built Environment at Suffolk Headquarters in Boston. The event, sponsored by Autodesk, brought together industry experts, investors, architects, construction professionals, and startup founders worldwide for a series of panel discussions and networking opportunities.

“At Suffolk, our people are focused on digitization – how do you use data to design buildings in a more efficient and predictable way?” John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk noted during his opening remarks. “Our goal at the end of the day is to collaborate with each other to drive down costs, improve efficiencies, and create products that we never thought we would be capable of creating in the future. We are humbled and honored to be the convener of this conversation about one of the most exciting opportunities of the past 50 years.”

The half-day event featured esteemed speakers and panel discussions, including a keynote address by Nicolas Mangon, Vice President of AEC Strategy and Marketing at Autodesk.

“Building owners want to own a bigger part of the process in projects and have access to more information through digital twins,” noted Mangon during his keynote address. “So, Autodesk has been thinking about the future of building information modeling, or BIM, and we believe it will be based on granular data and AI.”

The event showcased emerging design automation startups alongside industry leaders from Autodesk, Hazelview InvestmentsPower DesignThornton Tomasetti, and Suffolk. Startup participants included:

  • Augmenta: a fully automated building design platform, built from the ground up around Generative AI. Augmenta drives a new level of efficiency for the construction industry by designing sustainable, code compliant, and fully constructible buildings in hours.
  • Gryps: a construction technology company that automatically aggregates data and provides smart analytics to help you be more effective and reduce manual work when managing capital projects.
  • Speckle: an open-source digital infrastructure for anything designed in 3D. Speckle handles interoperability between software silos, real time collaboration, data management, versioning and automation.
  • Tangible: a carbon emissions software that helps real estate developers measure, report, and reduce carbon emissions in their construction projects.

Following the opening and keynote remarks, the event featured two engaging panel discussions. The first panel explored the potential for generative AI to transform the building design process. Panelists discussed how innovative technologies, such as Augmenta, are reshaping traditional approaches and enabling architects and engineers to conceive and refine designs with speed and precision. The second panel discussion shifted focus to the utilization of AI to enhance data workflows and foster collaboration among all stakeholders driving the design process.

The evening culminated with a reception allowing attending startups to showcase their technologies to a captive audience of potential customers, investors, and collaborators.

“This event started an important dialogue between innovators and industry leaders. The future of AEC is AI. Automation is needed to reduce manual and boring tasks and get designers and builders back to focusing on what they love to do – designing and building high quality spaces for humans,” said Diana Swenton, Vice President of Venture Capital at Suffolk Technologies. “We envision a future where collaboration supersedes fragmentation, and information flows easily across all stakeholders. AI will play an important role in driving that transformation, from building design to ongoing operations and maintenance.”

Suffolk Technologies is a venture capital platform that invests in early stage built-world companies, working closely with Suffolk to fuel industry innovation and ensure a more tech-driven, efficient, and safer construction process. The firm has made over forty investments in companies including OpenSpace, Higharc, WINT, and Moxion Power.

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