In an environment in which pressure mounts for cities to address affordable housing needs, decarbonize buildings, and meet sustainability goals, housing technology company Intelligent City (Vancouver, BC) recently raised US$17 million (CAD$22M), bringing the total capital invested in the company to US$23M (CAD$30M). Intelligent City applies automation and robotics to the design and manufacturing of prefabricated mass timber buildings, and will use the funding to scale operations, commercialize its Platforms for Life (P4L) building solution, grow factory automation, and expand its footprint across and beyond Canada.
Earlier in 2022, Intelligent City completed testing of its building systems and is verified to work with mass timber high-rise building codes in Canada and the United States.
The recent funding includes Series A venture funding with participation by BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice, Greensoil PropTech Ventures, UIT Growth Equity GP, Fulmer & Company, and more than 30 independent investors. That funding complements government programs and accelerators including the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program, the Sustainable Technology Canada (SDTC) Seed Fund, and the Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster (NGen) Manufacturing Project Funding. Fort Capital Partners acted as financial advisor and placement agent for the Series A and seed rounds.“We are focused on revolutionizing an industry that is notoriously slow to innovate while making a significant impact on our climate with lower carbon emissions from the construction and operations of buildings,” said Oliver Lang, CEO and co-founder of Intelligent City. “By utilizing green building strategies and patented technology to deliver affordable, mass-customizable urban housing, we can help cities to adapt more quickly as the needs of people and the planet evolve.”
The company points out it departs strongly from the construction industry’s typically fragmented and hierarchical design and construction processes, by developing a flexible yet scalable technology and design platform. It emphasizes that by focusing on a deep vertical integration of building systems, software, manufacturing automation, and supply-chain contracts, it can help developers achieve nearly 100% cost certainty, deliver 1.5 times the number of residential units on the same site compared to traditional methods, and realize savings of up to 50% on life cycle costs per home.
The company takes an end-to-end, product-based approach that uses proprietary parametric software for design, construction-cost estimation, carbon-footprint confirmation, material qualifications, and precision manufacturing. Its manufacturing technology brings automation to the prefabrication of building components, enabling Intelligent City to provide data on the life cycle and performance of the building before construction begins.In combination with mass timber construction, Intelligent City uses the energy-efficiency standards of Passive House design to achieve a 90% carbon-emissions reduction in its buildings. This concept uses building science principles to attain specific energy efficiency and comfort levels. It includes continuous insulation and air-tight seals, high-performing windows and doors, balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation, and minimal space conditioning throughout the building.
“Intelligent City’s technology is set to enable the future of the built world to be more climate-resilient by replacing emissions-intensive materials such as concrete and steel with a renewable material that naturally sequesters carbon,” said Matt Stanley, director of BDC Capital’s cleantech practice. “We are excited to support the team to accelerate the development and scale-up of its mass timber building systems and advanced offsite manufacturing capabilities.”
“As proptech industry disruptors, we are excited by the combination of Intelligent City’s platform technology with prefabricated and modular mass timber products to radically speed up construction and dramatically reduce carbon emissions,” added Dana Goldman Szekely, senior principal with Greensoil PropTech Ventures. Greensoil’s managing partner Jamie James has joined Intelligent City’s board of directors.“ESG technologies are not only imperative but demanded by building operators, owners, and tenants,” said Patrick Robinson, UIT chair. “Our investment in Intelligent City resulted from careful consideration of the future landscape of the construction industry as well as the vision and the passion demonstrated by the entire team at Intelligent City.”
Intelligent City has a pipeline of more than 2300 homes and is supported by developers in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and the U.S., including two high-rise projects in downtown Vancouver, one of which is supported by the BC Mass Timber Demonstration Program. The company previously was granted funding by the CleanBC Building Innovation Fund, the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), and Natural Resources Canada’s Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) program. The technology platform has been awarded the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label.
“Affordable, efficient, and attractive housing is lacking globally,” added Fulmer & Company founder and chair Yuri Fulmer. “As cities and developers scramble to construct more buildings on pre-existing urban lots, Intelligent City developed a fundamentally better and faster way to erect buildings that are more energy-efficient and cost-effective.”
The Honorable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minster of Natural Resources, concluded, “By making effective use of Canada’s forest resources through low-carbon building systems, Canada is becoming a world leader in sustainable wood construction practices, increasing energy efficiency and climate resilience in our communities while simultaneously enhancing the global competitiveness of our forestry, wood manufacturing, and construction sectors. That’s why our government is pleased to support projects like this one—to help lower emissions, create good jobs for workers, and build better neighborhoods for everyone.”