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Construction startups vie for top spot at CCA pitch session

Warren Frey
Construction startups vie for top spot at CCA pitch session
MACH85 — Mach85 employees (above) install sensors on bridges to measure strain and other factors affecting aging infrastructure. The firm was the winner of the Innovator’s Pitch: CONtact session held March 9 at the Canadian Construction Association’s annual conference in Vancouver.

Three Canadian firms vied for the top spot at The Innovator’s Pitch: CONtact session held at Canadian Construction Association’s annual conference in Vancouver recently.

Mach85 Inc. president Shaun Kennedy, OnTraccr Technologies Inc. CEO and co-founder Syed Ahmed and Stabiliforce Technologies CEO Love Veronneau all pitched their products to a jury comprised of Smith and Long Limited business initiatives vice-president Dave Graham, Bridgit COO and co-founder Lauren Lake, and JCB Construction Canada Inc. Atlantic director of projects Patrick Lafreniere.

Ahmed presented OnTraccr, his company’s project management software, which he said is the first application designed for the construction industry that automates workflows.

“Construction is one of the oldest industries in history, but contractors are still using inefficient and outdated methods,” he said. “Not just pen and paper but also outdated project management software based on manual entry.”

Ahmed said OnTraccr allows users to design the software the way they want it without using code or having to hire a developer.

“No contractors operate the same way, so why should they use software the same way?” he asked.

He added the software can also be adapted to use for sales and other aspects of a construction firm on the same platform.

Kennedy explained Mach85’s goal is to automate and lower the price of infrastructure maintenance in light of the rising dangers of climate change.

He added while owners want to extend the life of aging infrastructure, the flaw in the current inspection process is that it’s based on visuals.

“We invented our technology for aerospace, but we customized and combined that technology with artificial intelligence (AI) and drones to tackle infrastructure,” Kennedy said.

He elaborated with traditional methods a strain gauge would measure a small part of a bridge but Mach85’s methods allowed for measurement of the entire bridge at a much lower price point.

“With our technology we could measure the entire span of a bridge, take a freeze frame of maximum traffic and capture the maximum strain gauge which couldn’t happen with older methods,” Kennedy said.

“We can do velocity, acceleration, deflection and strains all with one tool. We can also quantify damage such as crack detection and monitoring, detection of cracks not visible to the human eye and track width,” he added.

Stabiliforce’s hydraulic piling devices were one of the three products showcased by construction startups during the pitch session.
STABILIFORCE — Stabiliforce’s hydraulic piling devices were one of the three products showcased by construction startups during the pitch session.

Veronneau explained Stabiliforce’s hydraulic pile product came about because “it’s not uncommon to see structures under a year old with foundation problems and wall cracks.”

“Current solutions are too invasive or lack permanent stability,” she said. “There’s been no change to the industry in the last 30 years.”

She said Stabiliforce is a family business which invented a turnkey system for residential, commercial and industrial use.

“The technology has been used for construction of a large parking area for an abandoned nuns’ quarters in Quebec that became condos. The structure would have collapsed using traditional methods,” Veronneau said.

She added her company can train clients who want to use the equipment and that contractors who have used the product “described it as a ‘Nintendo game’ (in terms of ease of use) due to our remote controls.”

Lafreniere and Graham‘s favourite was OnTraccr while Lake favoured Mach85.

“The challenge for Mach85 is the opposite to Stabiliforce, where it’s easy to explain the problem. Articulating the problem with AI and drones, people get lost, so focus on that core message,” Lake advised.

The winner was tabulated by taking the vote of those attending the session and viewing the livestream. The overall winner was Mach85 with 55 votes, followed by Stabiliforce with 36 votes and OnTraccr with 12 votes.

The winner will be featured in an upcoming CCA publication, as well as webinars and their presentation will be shared with CCA leadership.


Follow the author on Twitter @JOCFrey.

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