Sustainable and AI concrete startup AICrete raises $4m seed funding to accelerate growth

Sustainable and AI concrete startup AICrete raises $4m seed funding to accelerate growth

Published: 22-09-2022 12:40:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 244 | Tags:

AICrete, the recipe-as-a-service platform optimizing local materials for cleaner and more cost-efficient concrete, announced it has raised $4 million in a seed funding led by CLEAR Ventures and VoLo Earth Ventures with participation from Cortical Ventures and one of the world's leading manufacturers of concrete and building materials. In connection with their investment, Vijay Reddy, Partner at CLEAR Ventures, and Kareem Dabbagh, Managing Partner of VoLo Earth Ventures, will join the AICrete Board of Directors.

A trillion-dollar industry, concrete is the second most consumed substance on earth after water and is responsible for 8-10% of CO2 emissions globally - more than 4 billion tons of CO2 every year - the same amount of global emissions produced by passenger cars and three times that of aviation. The changing availability and variability of concrete raw materials as well as environmental conditions lead to inconsistencies in performance and appearance resulting in extra production costs and customer dissatisfaction.

Parham Aghdasi, Founder and CEO, AICrete: "The concrete industry is at a crossroads that requires it to innovate and optimize. AICrete's mission is to hasten the coming of age of predictable, cost-effective, durable, and sustainable concrete in real time. Through the use of AI, we're able to reduce emissions by up to 35% and at least double profit margins for concrete producers."

While concrete technology has advanced across quality control and operations, there has been little improvement in productivity over the past decades. Today, concrete experts with decades of experience use their 'intuition' to design mixture recipes by varying the proportion of ingredients that are tested for compressive strength and other characteristics. However, the winning recipe may not necessarily be the most cost effective or environmentally friendly option.

Smaller-size concrete producers don't have access to such experts and need to rely on external designs based on limited experience and lab experiments. As a result, billions of tons of concrete are under-optimized annually, leading to wastage and sustainability issues within the industry. Further, skilled labor and mixture design experts in the concrete industry are aging out and retiring at a faster rate than the younger generation is coming in.

AICrete is capturing this expert intuition by automating data collection and experimentation with humans in the loop to bring the best practices and expertise of optimization and quality control to the entire industry by using AI. Instead of having to wait months to develop and confirm a mixture, AICrete's solution optimizes and validates a mixture in days and dramatically reduces material costs alongside the CO2 footprint by augmenting the current capabilities of concrete producers and their technical teams to discover and develop more advanced, cost-effective, durable, and sustainable concrete mixtures.

At the same time, this approach satisfies all performance requirements and objectives of concrete producers, contractors, owners, and engineers. AICrete is combining data and AI with automation and robotics, and aims to make these optimizations in real time in the coming years. These measures also improve the supply chain issues plaguing the industry.

Vijay Reddy, Partner, CLEAR Ventures: "Along with our funding, a Fortune 500 industry-leading building products company is investing with us. We see this as a sign of confidence that AICrete has a viable value proposition business model and is addressing an unmet customer need. Building such an ambitious data platform needs someone with a unique blend of AI and domain knowledge. We were impressed by the founder's story; Parham Aghdasi has succeeded against all odds."

Martin Scheiber, Director of Manufacturing, Clark Pacific: "AICrete technology is a great approach and should be of significant benefit to many concrete producers. The increasingly complex nature of material selection and proportioning, along with the continuing increases in raw materials costs as well as lowering the overall carbon footprint of concrete will mandate the need for this type of service to the R&D, quality and operational teams throughout the industry. AICrete provided us with four optimized mixtures to choose from; the selected AICrete mixture has a targeted cost savings of 4-5% per cubic yard in addition to indirect R&D cost savings and the reduction of our carbon footprint by 17%, compared to the mix that we currently use." 

Born and raised in IranParham Aghdasi was banned from higher education due to his BaháΚΌí faith. Dodging raids and arrests while studying Civil Engineering at Iran's Bahá'í-run underground university, he became their first F-1 student to go directly to the US. Accepted by the University of Texas, Arlington for post-grad studies, Parham then undertook a PhD at Berkeley in structural materials, focusing on the development of concrete composites for projects ranging from building efficiency and sustainability in the tropics to deep, ultra-high-speed train tunnels in Japan. With years of experience in the concrete industry and a background in AI, he had the idea for AICrete: use AI to optimize concrete.

AICrete will use this round of funding to expand its paid proof of concept program to several key concrete producers to illustrate AICrete's current capabilities; expand its database and further improve its predictive machine learning models; as well as, automate data collection through the development of software and robotic systems. With these activities underway, AICrete will move closer towards its ultimate goal of developing vertical AI-powered software solutions for concrete optimization that increase efficiency gains, profitability, and sustainability.