BC robot builder raises $22 million for expansion

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Smart city capitalizes on opportunities for solid wood construction as jurisdictions enact new building codes

A BC construction company specializing in the use of robotics to build homes has received fresh capital from investors.

Intelligent City Inc. announced Tuesday (July 19) that it has raised an additional $22 million in a bid to expand into new markets and expand its factory operations.

The company is best known for using robotics to assemble solid wood buildings, targeting medium to high rise residential and office buildings.

Prior to 2019, building codes prevented the construction of buildings with a timber frame taller than six stories. The only exception was the Brock Commons residential tower at UBC, completed in 2017, which was built as a demonstration project for solid wood construction.

Following the implementation of the province’s Tall Wood Initiative in 2019, solid wood buildings in BC are now allowed to be up to 12 stories tall.

“We can’t just do that in BC,” Lang told BIV last fall, citing the Intelligent City business model.

“Our technology really needs to be scalable to other markets. So now we’ve adopted this bulk timber code in Alberta. It is accepted in Quebec. … In Washington, Oregon and California we can even go 18 stories up with our systems because they have adopted the International Building Code.”

Based in North Delta, Intelligent City’s first factory officially opened its doors last October, paving the way for what Lang called a more sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective way to build homes.

“There is currently a lot of waste in construction. There’s wasted materials, there’s wasted time,” Lang said, adding that people wouldn’t accept it if their phones or furniture were made in the sometimes improvised ways that the construction industry could resort to.

The company’s proprietary software is integrated with Intelligent City’s design and manufacturing systems. The developers then submit a questionnaire about what they want from the building, while the software takes into account local building codes and regulations.

A digital twin is created for vendors in the building supply chain to review to ensure change orders do not impact the project.

Depending on the municipality, the entire design process for a typical building can take around three months. Intelligent City’s robotic arms will then be deployed at the facility to erect the building’s superstructure and outer shell, which will be delivered to the construction site.

The latest increase brings total funding to $30 million.

The July funding round included participation from BDC Capital’s Cleantech Practice, Greensoil PropTech Venture, UIT Growth Equity GP and Fulmer & Co., as well as other independent investors.

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