BKwai, a construction data company that helps engineers develop smarter, more sustainable infrastructure, has raised £2.2 million in seed funding from investors led by Octopus Ventures with participation from Cambridge Enterprise and Deeptech Labs.

In many countries, ageing infrastructure - such as roads, bridges and tunnels - remains in use beyond its design life and intended capacity. 

In order to get more out of these assets using minimal resources, the construction industry needs to better understand how they are performing. Assessing their condition can be difficult, however. There are logistical challenges—visually inspecting remote and hard to access assets can be expensive and hazardous. Even in new construction, it is important to ensure safe environments and understand the short- and long-term environmental impact of a site.

Recently COVID-19 has compounded these challenges by limiting the number of people allowed onsite. In the longer term, the industry is facing pressures associated with the climate crisis and extreme weather events, which add strain to the condition and structural health of assets, making assessing their condition increasingly important.

The BKwai software platform brings together data from multiple sources—onsite sensors, environmental data, and remote satellite data—providing a comprehensive view of an asset as well as its surrounding environment. Bkwai applies advanced data techniques to help engineers sift through huge volumes of data to find patterns, identify early warning signs, and predict what could happen. The platform puts this insight into the site engineer’s hands quickly and in real time, helping construction companies and asset owners to make more timely, cost-effective, and safe decisions.

BKwai’s founder, Sakthy Selvakumaran, said: "The proliferation of new sensors and satellite technology has the potential to fuel a revolution in monitoring the built environment. Data can be used to make smarter, safer, more economical decisions - from planning to construction, and operation to maintenance. In an industry rooted in spreadsheets and manual interventions, however, it is difficult to find key insights and values. The industry is crying out for better tools to help us understand the complex challenges facing our built environment. That's where we step in. We can provide data-driven engineering insights, to find the right solutions and take action."

Selvakumaran has over a decade of international experience in design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure assets. She combines this with a PhD and academic research in satellite monitoring and data analysis methods in the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering.  

Although only founded in 2019, BKwai is already used by some of the biggest names in UK construction and on existing major infrastructure assets. Current customers include Thames Tideway, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, WSP, and Highways England.The company is also supported by Geovation, part of Ordnance Survey, UK.


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