Ideas which could revolutionise the Construction Industry were received from all over the world for the 2019 COINS Grand Challenge, a global competition organised by Construction Industry Solutions Ltd (COINS) which hopes to uncover innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.
The COINS Grand Challenge which consists of two competitions, Undergraduate and Open, aims to encourage people to come forward with new ideas and approaches to help improve or address challenges facing the construction industry.
A Sri Lankan student’s innovative solution for site-based soil testing won the Undergraduate Competition. Chathurangi Edussuriya is a final year student from the Department of Computer Engineering at the University of Peradeniya. Her idea to use the correlations between soil parameters and the electrical resistance of soil, and develop a mechanism which performs soil tests at the location of construction in a few minutes with the results fed into a smartphone, was also awarded the COINS Investment Prize, which goes to the entry that judges consider to be the most promising business idea.
Chathurangi comments: “I think my idea could revolutionise the construction industry because usually soil tests are performed in laboratories, but with my method they can be performed at the construction site. The ‘Soil Analyser’ could save both money and time for the construction companies. The COINS Investment Prize will help me to develop my idea further as it’s currently based on research. Taking part in the COINS Grand Challenge has been the best experience of my life!”
A climate-saving technology which reduces the embedded carbon in construction projects won the Open Competition. The award winning CO2LOC technology has been developed by Michael Evans, CEO of Cambridge Carbon Capture Ltd, who explains the importance of this: “We’re developing a technology that can capture CO2 and convert it into materials that can be used in the construction sector. Winning this award has been really fantastic for us as we’re at a stage in the development of our technology where we really need to get exposure to the construction sector, so that they can adopt some of the materials we’re using and take some risks in trying something new. Our CO2 lock technology can capture CO2 in the form of magnesium carbonate, this can be used as a filler in construction materials as a direct replacement for gypsum. And the beauty of that is that we’re capturing the CO2 so that it that doesn’t go into the atmosphere, but we’re also creating carbon negative building materials which are displacing other more carbon intensive materials. So overall, we’re making construction industry a lot cleaner!
Edinburgh University architecture student Felix Chu was awarded the COINS Software Innovation Prize for his proposal to combine intelligent technologies to increase the efficiency of the architecture industry. The software would integrate advanced technologies such as algorithms, big data and machine learning to generate all possible design outcomes of a site in just a matter of seconds, based on client requests and requirements, law, regulations, and site analysis. Felix will be given an internship within COINS research and development department to enable him to develop this idea further.
Kaushal Shetty & Madhav Datt, both students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, were the runners up for the Undergraduate Competition with their design for a sustainable emergency shelter for people displaced due to natural disasters or violence. ‘The Box’ is a light-weight energy-independent ‘shelter kit’ which can be transported quickly. It leverages advanced sensors and applied AI technologies coupled with solar panels and water catchment units to provide access to electricity and safe water. Each shelter houses 4 people and can be assembled in less than 30 minutes by 2 people with no specialised training.
Ali Khaloo, CEO and Founder of Aren, USA is the Open Competition runner up. Aren is an end-to-end AI-powered solution for assessing critical infrastructure systems that allows data-driven decision-making and risk management to improve safety, resiliency and capital allocation. Dr Ali Khaloo, is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University’s elite Runway program.
The panel of 12 judges included Oliver Novakovic, Technical & Innovation Director of Barratt Developments Plc, William George, CFO of Comfort Systems USA and Charles Lovatt Senior Teaching Fellow in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity at St Andrews University.
Robert Brown, CEO of COINS, who has played a major role in establishing the COINS Grand Challenge, explains why this competition is so important: “Since its inception 5 years ago the Grand Challenge goes from strength to strength. Our aims are not only to search out new innovation but also to showcase to people of all ages how getting involved in the construction industry can provide an exciting and dynamic career choice. And at the same time address the issues that young people care about the most such as climate change, sustainability, accessibility and more generally the quality of peoples’ lives.”