A software design firm born from Google’s “moonshot” development arm Google X last week won $8m in venture capitalist funding to develop new collaborative software for the construction industry.
San Francisco-based Flux was previously known as Vannevar Technology, and was the subject of a news story that became CM’s most-read article in 2013 – Is Google planning a new BIM-busting app for construction?
The two companies share the same strapline: “Reimagining building design for a more sustainable future.
Flux’s new investor is Borealis Ventures, which is already active in 3D design and construction management software and DFJ, a tech venture capitalist. The company also has backing from Google Ventures and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
According to a statement on Flux’s website, the company is working on a methodology that would allow architects and engineers to work “at the speed of thought” and design buildings with optimal energy performance that are also linked to the owner’s business objectives. Jen Carlile, Flux co-founder and software engineer, said: “Our vision is to seamlessly join together and optimise an array of tools that allows architects and engineers to work at the speed of thought.”
The company also highlights the system’s sustainability agenda, saying that the founding team is seeking a “radical solution to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings” and one that will “allow building owners to trade-off upfront construction cost with marketability, life-cycle operating cost, occupant experience, and environmental impact.”
Michelle Kaufmann, co-founder and architect, said: “The power required to heat, cool, light, and power devices in the places we live and work is responsible for 40% of our carbon emissions. Much of this power is wasted due to inadequate design, antiquated technology, and poor construction quality.”
But rather than being a BIM platform itself, it appears to be a system that will link in with other 3d design and analysis tools, using algorithms and insights drawn from Big Data. The goal also appears to be making this sophisticated level of analysis available to a wide customer base.
Jesse Devitte, managing director of Borealis Ventures, said: “Flux represents a paradigm shift for the AEC industry that uniquely leverages customer investments in existing BIM and analysis tools.”
DFJ partner Steve Jurvetson said: “We simply cannot continue building the way we have. We need to leverage new technologies, massive data sets, and new processes to increase productivity, scale the scope of design, and improve the places where we live and work. At DFJ, we look for great visionaries with unique ideas that can change the world. The Flux team is a perfect example, with a powerful mission unlike any that I have ever seen.”
The statement also talks of “improving the accessibility of design tools in order to meet the world’s demand for durable, sustainable buildings” and a job advert posted on the site says that Flux “uses, supports and contributes to open source software”.
Flux will continue developing and testing its software on a few select projects this year, and is due to make it publicly available in early 2015.
US news website Construction Data Company has looked into some of the patents filed by Flux’s founders, and has posted its findings here.