HS2: Construction may not begin until 2021
Construction of the UK’s upcoming high-speed railway network may not begin until late this year to early next year despite government green light which was given on April 15th.
Last week, the UK’s HS2 railway project was handed a ‘notice to proceed’ by the government, meaning construction could commence at anytime despite coronavirus concerns.
The timing of the decision has been questioned from organisations against the scheme including Stop HS2, which described the go-ahead as “shamelessly opportunistic”. In addition, it has been reported that councilors in Buckinghamshire were “dismayed” that the green light was given during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown, which commenced on the 23rd of March.
Councillor Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, expressed his disappointment and optimism whilst describing the situation as “difficult to comprehend” during the coronavirus pandemic.
On the contrary, acting Executive Director at Eiffage UK, David Lowery, stated that the notice to proceed from the nation’s government has “a huge boost for the project and the industry as a whole”
Lowery continued to explain that “there has been a huge amount of work put in to get to notice to proceed. We have 10 strategic partners which got us this far and now we are in the process of renegotiating with them to discuss how we can take that on to the next stage of detailed design and then construction”.
He did, however, confirm that HS2 would not be commenced immediately and expects that work on the major infrastructure project wouldn’t commence “until later this summer or early autumn”.
Phase 1 of the project will connect England’s capital, London, to one of the UK’s other major cities, Birmingham, which will include 15 viaducts, multiple kilometers of green tunnels, 67 overbridges, 22 km of road diversions, and 30M.m3 of excavation.
James Richardson, Managing Director of SCS JV, had his say on the project, stating: “HS2 will support the UK economy for years to come and will form the backbone of our rail network connecting around 30M people. It will also enable us, in these changing times, to give confidence to our businesses, supply chain and the communities that we are working with, by creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships and strengthening the industry for the future.”
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Buildots secures US$30mn in Series B Funding
Buildots, an AI construction firm developing artificial intelligence systems for the construction industry, has announced it has secured US$30mn in a Series B funding round to expand its operations. The round was backed by Lightspeed Ventures with participation from TLV Partners, Future Energy Ventures, and Tidhar Construction Group, Buildots’ former investors.
The company secured US$16mn in funding in 2020, and its AI computer vision systems are now being used in projects across 12 countries including the US, UK, Switzerland, Germany, and Hong Kong.
The role of the construction industry in digital transformation
Discussing the industry’s involvement in digital transformation, Roy Danon, co-founder and CEO of Buildots, said: “When it comes to digital transformation, construction has been a sleeping giant and Covid-19 served as an accelerator for the industry.“We are now working with construction companies in over a dozen countries and what we’re seeing is that the challenges Buildots is addressing are ubiquitous around the world.
“A global expansion at the rate we’ve experienced would have ordinarily been impossible in an industry like construction that has its roots in handshake deals and in-person relationships without the new Covid reality of remote meetings and even deal signings,” he added.
Tal Morgenstern, Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, believes the sector can make a difference to GDP but is struggling to make a statement in the technology industry. “Construction is a massive market with real GDP impact but it is still underserved by technology,” Morgenstern said.
However, Morgenstern points out that change is possible, adding: “We believe Buildots is the company that will change that reality. The rapid adoption Buildots has seen to date is driven exclusively by word of mouth. Following that success, this financing round will support an aggressive growth plan going forward.”
Buildots’ systems and AI algorithms work by validating images captured by 360-degree cameras mounted to hardhats. This allows the algorithms to detect any gaps between design, scheduling, the final product on the construction site.