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Spacemaker scores $25M Series A to let property developers use AI

Spacemaker, a Norway-based startup that’s created AI software to help property developers and architects make better design decisions, has picked up $25 million in Series A funding.

The round is jointly led by Atomico and Northzone, with participation from investors in property and construction tech including Danish property developer NREP, Nordic property developer OBOS, and U.K. real estate technology fund Round Hill Ventures. A number of earlier investors including Norway’s Construct Venture also followed on.

Described as “the world’s first” AI-assisted design and construction simulation software for the property development sector, Spacemaker claims to enable property development professionals, such as real estate developers, architects, and urban planners, to quickly generate and evaluate the optimal environmental design for any multi-building residential development. To achieve this, the Spacemaker software crunches various data including physical data, regulations, environmental factors and others preferences.

“Today developers and urban planners plan sites largely ‘by hand’ — meaning they can explore 20-30 options at most as they try to optimise for a multitude of regulatory, design, environmental and economic constraints,” says Spacemaker co-founder and CEO Håvard Haukeland.

“Given the rate at which urban populations are increasing, we can’t build sustainable and liveable cities by continuing to rely on those methods. New urban developments need to make the best possible use of the available land to create comfortable spaces for residents while balancing stringent planning regulations”.

This, explained Haukeland, means answering questions such as: How can we find the best way to orient a building to optimise how much heat is needed and save energy? How can we optimise for sunlight in all the apartments in a development in the Nordics? Or conversely, how can we optimise for shade in a much sunnier country?

“Architects and developers are thinking about all those things, while at the same time trying to balance regulations and other factors such as noise, wind and accessibility,” he says.

To help with this, Spacemaker has created software that lets developers and architects “sense check” their designs and optimise for a range of different parameters, from sun exposure to noise to wind to apartment size, choosing from hundreds of possible layouts. And by enabling developers and architects to test many iterations from the earliest stages, Haukeland says Spacemaker can help developers configure volumes smarter and thus increase sellable area.

“At the same time, by intelligently distributing volumes the AI can help dramatically improve the living quality of future residents,” he adds.

To that end, Spacemaker says it works with some of the largest names in property development in the Nordics and globally including Skanska, Obos, AF Gruppen and NREP. The company’s 100+ team is said to include world-class data scientists, mathematicians, software developers, architects and urban planners.

Meanwhile, I’m told that Atomico Principal Ben Blume led the round on behalf of Atomico (contrary to the belief that only Partners do deals) and will join Spacemaker’s board along with Northzone’s Michiel Kotting.

“Construction is a large part of global GDP with significant potential for technology to improve the sector’s low productivity, and we see a willingness from the industry to look for innovative new solutions,” Blume tells me.

“We have identified a number of areas to apply new technologies across the construction project life cycle in design, project management, site management and monitoring and in some of the construction processes themselves. Spacemaker’s demonstrated ability to create value for their customers, combined with their ability to create better quality of living for the residents of the buildings it is used to design, make it a compelling proposition for the property development industry to adopt”.