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UK startup lands £2.6M to build sustainable and affordable homes using AI and robotics

Automated Authority team
Picture credits: Automated Authority

The construction industry is one of the world’s largest sectors, with $10 trillion annually spent on construction-related goods and services. However, according to a McKinsey report, the sector has an intractable productivity problem, costing the global economy $1.6 trillion annually. Existing solutions, such as modular factories, are CapEx-heavy, struggle to deliver, and take years to set up.

This is where the UK-based Automated Architecture (AUAR) comes into the picture. It works with the mission to build sustainable and affordable homes using its micro-factories.

In a recent development, construction tech startup has raised £2.6 million in seed funding. 

This round was led by deeptech and AI fund Miles Ahead alongside Robotics & Automation Ventures (ABB RA Ventures), the venture capital unit of the ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation business, Rival Holdings, Morgan Stanley, Vandenbussche Group, and Bacchus Venture Capital. It also saw participation from angel investors, including Nicolas Bearelle, Atomico Scout Stefano Bernardi, and Dob Todorov. 

The investment will support the company’s growth of its partner license network with ten more partners and expanding operations in the US. In addition, AUAR is hiring across its robotics, product and marketing teams as part of the funding. 

Enables sustainable homes at lower prices 

AUAR was founded in 2019 by Mollie Claypool and Gilles Retsin, after working together for over a decade researching how robotics, generative design, and AI could radically transform housing and how we live.

The company offers a different vision for the built environment, where automation is not centralised into large factories but empowers local ecosystems of communities, contractors, architects and developers to build better homes. It is targeting 40 license partners for its micro-factories by 2030, with a capacity to produce over 75,000 energy-efficient homes and remove millions of tons of CO2 each year.

AUAR) licenses its tech stack of robotic micro-factories and AI to enable home-builders to deliver low-energy timber homes at scale and affordable prices. The company’s tech stack is low CapEx, can be quickly set up and allows home-builders to reduce costs and save time, increasing their productivity. The payback time is less than six months.

Its data model makes all costs and other data known upfront to their clients and manufacturing partners. The company is already working with two pilot customers – Rival Holdings and Vandenbussche NV.

Mollie Claypool, Co-Founder and CEO of AUAR, said, “There is a huge and urgent need for affordable low-energy homes, but currently, these are expensive to build and difficult to deliver at scale. Building high-quality, sustainable timber homes is hard to scale, but AUAR is here to change that. Robots and AI allow us to deliver high-quality housing at significantly lower costs, increasing margins and productivity while lowering the cost for the end users. By using our solution, construction companies are incentivised to  meet much-needed sustainability targets.”

Gilles Retsin, Co-Founder and CTO of AUAR, said, “AUAR has developed all the tech home builders need to develop, produce, and build affordable low-energy homes while increasing margins and productivity. Our technology is low CapEx, doesn’t require big factories, and pays itself back in a few months.”

Luc Burgelman, Founding Partner at Miles Ahead, said, “AUAR’s combination of licensed hardware and software has the potential to change the game as we know it. Its construction approach will not only be a massive help in fighting the low levels of productivity observed in the sector, saving companies valuable time, moreover, it will be instrumental in meeting sustainability goals.”

Brad Crawford, CEO at Rival Holdings, said, “We’re delighted to collaborate with AUAR both as an investor and a customer. The ability to efficiently incorporate their solution into our business makes this partnership dynamic and strategic, and we can’t wait to see what this funding round will enable their team to accomplish.”

Craig McDonnell, Managing Director, Business Line Industries at ABB Robotics, added, “By re-imagining how robotic automation can be used as part of the construction process, AUAR’s approach has the potential to completely transform the house building sector. By making full use of the extended possibilities offered by robots, AUAR’s concept will enable sustainable homes to be built faster, more cost-effectively and with greatly reduced waste while ensuring the highest levels of quality and consistency.”

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