Interview by Sarah Lipsit


Tim Coldwell, President, Chandos Construction

Tim Coldwell is a husband, dad, and Mohawk entrepreneur focused on leading by serving, culture, and the monetization of ideas. He serves as President of Chandos, a purpose driven national technical builder leading change in the Canadian construction industry. Chandos is the largest B-Corp certified contractor in the world and is proud to be one hundred percent employee owned. We believe value is created when leaders combine the power of purpose with existing business models to solve the world’s greatest problems. 

Under Tim’s leadership, Chandos has forged partnerships with social enterprises across Canada focusing on employment of at-risk youth and those who are under-represented in the construction industry. Tim is an advisor to San Francisco’s Center for Innovation in the Design & Construction Industry and was the founding board chair of the Integrated Project Delivery Alliance. Tim has been named a recipient of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40® and is an alumnus of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

Riccardo Cosentino, Senior Vice President, Investment Development Capital, SNC-Lavalin Capital

Mr. Cosentino, Senior Vice-President of Business Development with SNC-Lavalin Capital and Operations & Maintenance at SNC-Lavalin, has more than 20 years of experience on major civil projects in Canada, Italy and the United Kingdom.  Over the past eleven years with SNC-Lavalin, notable successes include Mr. Cosentino’s leadership during the successful pursuit of the Trillium Line Extension, Champlain Bridge, Eglinton Crosstown, Highway 407 Extension and Ottawa LRT project. Mr. Cosentino is currently serving as a board member of TransitNext, 407 East Development Group GP, Rideau Transit Group GP, Signature on the St. Lawrence GP and Crosslinx Transit Solutions GP.

Lucas Epp, Vice President & Head of Engineering, StructureCraft

Lucas Epp is a structural engineer with more than 17 years of experience working in Canada, the UK, and New Zealand. Notable local and international projects include The Richmond Speed Skating Oval timber roof structure, cable nets for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in London, and a 61-storey tower in Kuwait.

Lucas’ expertise with complex geometry and challenging structures has led him to be involved in projects where the intimate interaction of architecture and structure is critical to the success of the project. Passionate about timber engineering, he currently leads both engineering and drafting departments at StructureCraft and was promoted to Vice President in 2021. 

Lucas speaks and writes widely across North America on mass timber design and construction, and has lectured at the Architectural Association in London, ETH Zurich, and UBC. He is extensively involved in timber code development and sits on various CSA O86 timber code committees.  He is an author of the Nail Laminated Timber Design Guide and is an author of the recently published U.S. Mass Timber Floor Vibration Design Guide.

Nick Kurth, Senior Manager, Integrated Construction Technologies, PCL Construction Enterprises, Inc.

As Senior Manager, Integrated Construction Technologies, Nick is responsible for leading PCL’s virtual design and construction (VDC) as well as research and development efforts for the organization’s US & Canadian operations. Nick began his career in operations and now focuses on PCL’s adoption of integrated technologies, and how these technologies benefit the preconstruction, estimating, planning, management, and field execution phases. Throughout his construction career, Nick has managed projects ranging in value from $40 million to over $1 billion. His passion for emerging technologies that improve the construction process makes him a valuable member of PCL’s management team.

Eric Lessard, Vice President Innovation & Technology, Pomerleau

Eric has over 31 years of experience in technology and innovation. He has led many successful IT initiatives that have distinguished Pomerleau as a construction manager over the years. Working with his pan-Canadian team, Eric ensures that Pomerleau develops state-of-the-art business processes.

Tannis Liviniuk, President, Trillium Advisory Group

Having begun her career in the field, Tannis spent over 10 years wearing out steel-toed boots while accumulating a wealth of hands-on experience in the intricacies of construction project delivery. Since then, she has worked with some of the largest and most respected facility owner, engineering, and construction organizations globally to develop and optimize processes, educate and train project teams, and deploy new technologies.

Tannis is an active industry advancement advocate. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Houston and for the Construction Industry Institute (CII) at the University of Texas at Austin.  Tannis speaks at industry conferences globally on topics of industry innovation, Advanced Work Packaging, 4D/5D Planning, and advancing opportunities for women in construction.  She has a Master’s degree in Business Administration and is certified in project management by Stanford University’s Center for Professional Development.​

Colette Munro, Chief Digital Officer, AECOM

Colette is an experienced executive leader and strategic advisor in publicly listed companies with a background in engineering and over 20 years’ experience in digital transformation across the mining, energy and infrastructure sectors in Australia, USA, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, and The Netherlands.

At AECOM, she is leading the global expansion of our digital excellence, building a market-leading digital consulting business and delivering new long-term client value through SaaS hosted services.

Colette is known as a positive force for change and innovation as she leads her organization towards finding new and technology enabled sources of value and growth, including those from building information modelling (BIM), artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, analytics, immersive technologies and digital twins.

Terence Tourangeau, Director of Digital Practice, SvN Architects + Planners

As Director of Digital Practice, Terry navigates realms of computation design and virtual collaboration to extend the knowledge infrastructure that underpins SvN. As an accomplished architect with over 14 years of experience, he understands the power of cutting-edge digital tools to visualize innovation in the architecture, design, and function of urban environments.

How do you assess which products or services enhance the interaction between architecture and technology and add value to ensure success in the rapidly evolving AECOO industry? What are your key strategies to navigating the many products or technologies available?

Colette Munro, AECOM: Each business case must quantify the product/service’s impact on customer satisfaction, and the business performance of each engineering discipline aligned with our digital transformation. 

For example, we measure how much faster we could deliver an optimised design using automated workflows, computational design, and/or parametric design, compared to using current or standard industry practices. Because we have quantified the increased design efficiency and innovation that comes from automated workflows, we know where to focus in order to return value to our customers and our business lines. 

We start with the highest-value design workflows and map out the best-of-breed tools needed to support the workflow. Then, we develop in-house the components we need to ensure the tools work well together. We continue to push for open data — such as IFC — to enable interoperability, and we work closely with both large and small vendors to maximize innovation across the industry. 

Finally, aligned with AECOM’s “Think and Act Globally” strategy, we design our workflows from diverse experience, leveraging our scale to procure the latest technologies and deploy the workflows to our teams all over the world. Solutions such as Avail for content management and Orkestra for creating and deploying scripts are key to supporting our global adoption. 

There are, of course, many new and evolving products and services, but not all are suitable or align with AECOM’s strategy. Those that support our business cases and demonstrate strategic alignment with customer needs and improved business performance are the ones we are more likely to progress. Thankfully, our technical people are very curious ­they explore many interesting new solutions and let us know if they see a fit with our global strategy. 

Terence Tourangeau, SvN architects + Planners: Part of the assessment process involves evaluating how a unique product or service could fit into our existing workflow. Does a new platform resolve any of our organization's existing problems or eliminate pinch points to facilitate workflows? Does it make our design process any easier? Would this improve what we currently do? But just as important as that is evaluating the tool and imagining how we could add to what we do — so even if it doesn't fit what we are currently doing, is it something that benefits ourselves (and our clients)?

Lucas Epp, StructureCraft: Technology and innovation are key. I believe that the rise and fall of the next generation of companies will be fought and won on the battlefield of software and technology. The reality is if we want to get more efficient as an industry, we have to innovate — we have to get more efficient in our processes and our systems.

I think there’s already a lot of innovation in the construction industry, particularly in the last five years in the technology and software space. Construction innovation sees two challenges: geographical and structural. You need a lot of research in design to radically change and innovate, and with a field like designing products or airplanes, you repeat designs and manufacture at a high volume. But in our industry, we’re constantly building one-offs. Maybe some have the same technical building blocks, but the fundamental underlying technological challenges and building process for different finished objects in different regions and different people is a much more difficult hurdle.

Sometimes it’s looking at the pieces first, and then the whole. StructureCraft is a vertically integrated whole, from design to manufacturing to installation, so we don’t just look at how a carpenter can be more efficient than a site-installer, but how they altogether become more efficient and integrate and communicate better. We’re interested in investing in efficiencies that are embraced by the community.

Nick Kurth, PCL: We don’t typically assess the interaction between “architecture and technology” unless we are leading a Design Build (DB) project. Any technology that is integrated within the realm of design is disconnected from us, and usually has negligible (or even reduced) construction value because of faulty assumptions created by siloed processes, or is limited by standard legacy contractual deliverables from the client, i.e. paper documents.

PCL’s vision is “To be the most respected builder renowned for excellence, leadership and unsurpassed value”. At PCL, any technology is considered one of many tools that make up an overarching lean construction transformation. Technology creates value by enabling certain process improvements. The formula is a simple one: if technology “X” generates more value then it costs (reducing time, material, or effort), then it’s worth implementing. Obviously, we can’t test everything available so the key to implementation is the amount of effort vs. amount of value. Though, it’s important to note that most value for the client is only generated when the process improvement extends to other stakeholders along the value chain. Otherwise any improvement is temporary and siloed. For example in a DB, when design consultants have to turn their BIM into paper to get trades involved (competitive pricing), the BIM technology is essentially useless to anybody downstream from that moment on.

Tim Coldwell, Chandos Construction: Many in our industry are overly focused on what we call “sustaining innovation”. We’re interested in disruptive innovation and much of that relates to business models, new ways of interacting with our supply chain, and the human side of technology. Our team has developed a technology roadmap that we use to test new products and services for strategic fit. Some of the questions we ask are:

  • Does this solve a problem that needs solving?
  • Is this disruptive or merely incremental?
  • Does this tool/service represent best in class?
  • Is the strategy of the vendor aligned with our strategy?
  • Have we piloted this tool/service in our innovation program?
  • Does this meet our “table stakes” requirements with respect to technology?
  • Is the tool/service useful in addressing societal challenges?

Eric Lessard, Pomerleau: Pomerleau is committed to help the whole industry move forward. As part of this commitment, the organization has its own Innovation Team, composed of more than a hundred dedicated and creative employees. These are colleagues who are not afraid to go above and beyond what is expected from a construction organization — looking past the set boundaries.

Using the upstream innovation process that it created, the Innovation Team is able to provide recommendations to Pomerleau by ensuring that a targeted new innovation or technology meets an operational need, reduces or eliminates a task with no added value for our workers, increases the quality of our work or reduces the dangers in terms of health and safety on construction sites. If it does, the whole team gets involved in moving forward with the deployment of this solution for all Pomerleau’s projects across Canada.

  • For our organization, it is important to:
  • Ensure a global strategic watch;
  • Be influenced by other industries that have already gone through a digital transformation;
  • Include our entire ecosystem when evaluating new solutions;
  • Prioritize projects based on predefined pillars.

Also, to ensure Pomerleau’s vision of being a key leader in the Canadian industry, earlier this year, the organization, in collaboration with la Factry, created the aXLab. It’s a research laboratory whose mission is to evaluate, develop, test and pilot new technologies and innovations. And not only the ones related to the construction industry, but also from other industries.

Riccardo Cosentino, SNC-Lavalin Capital:  For me there are two main keys to assessing new products/services in the AECOO industry:

  • Interoperability: How will this product work with our current workflows, where will it fit? Will the use of this new product/service enhance the delivery of our projects? What is the fully realized benefit of use and when can we see it? 
  • Innovation: Does this product/service provide SNC an advantage in our digital strategy? Will this product/service pass internal and client security protocols?

The key strategy for navigating the many products available, in my mind, is simple. After asking the questions above, I need to know the longevity of the company providing it. I would also research who else in the industry is offering the services as well as who is using it, understand the pros and cons of what is being offered, as well as the considerations of a long-term goal.

Tannis Liviniuk, Trillium Advisory Group: The industry technology landscape is exciting, filled with growth and innovation potential. There are constantly new platforms and applications being launched that catch our attention. It’s great to see so much focus on our industry by technology founders, especially on problem areas that are complex and fuzzy, rather than problem areas that have been solution saturated.

When assessing value creation potential, we look for technology that augments well-defined processes — “shoehorning” a process around technology is a recipe for inefficiency. Teams that achieve the most value from their technology investment focus on augmenting processes with digital solutions that reduce work steps, enhance decision-making potential, or increase operational throughput as a result of investment. Technology solutions should “supercharge good processes.” If the solution requires a complete revamp or redefinition of process to gain value, it’s likely going to miss the mark with most industry stakeholders.

There are several key strategies to employ when navigating the industry technology space. First, make sure you are solving for a real business need and approach solution evaluation with a well-detailed set of requirements. This eliminates the potential for a “shiny-object” purchase and instead ensures that the team evaluates each solution against a set of criteria that support the organization or project team’s mission. Second, pilot before you plunge. Avoid embarking on hefty solution deployments before you have piloted the solution to determine fit. Third, connect with peers in your space to obtain references and lessons learned, if possible. Those insights can help you determine misfits more accurately than online research and reviews from others who may have had different use cases.

How do you assess risk and opportunity? When do you know it’s the right time or structure to develop, deploy, and integrate new design and project delivery solutions? What is a key feature that you look for when choosing new products or processes?

Eric Lessard, Pomerleau: As mentioned in the previous answer, we’ve put in place an innovation process, which is supporting us from strategic watch to full deployment on our work sites. 

Indeed, it’s expected that not all innovations will make their way to the work sites. We are managing a portion of our testing and development that will never make it, and it’s fine. That’s what creation is all about. Sometimes you’re struck by a flash of genius, but sometimes, it turns out that your idea isn’t as good as you thought it was. To reduce that risk factor, we’re making sure to consult our teams out on the field in the first place and at key moments in the process to assess the utility aspect and the relevance of the project for them. 

For those innovations which receive a “go”, for sure, we have a prioritizing exercise to do in order to decide which ones will hit the work sites first. And we do that by evaluating the added value it could bring and how it will respond to our work-site team’s needs. It’s a collaborative exercise. We also have to manage the change process, prepare and train the teams, ensure they have all the tools they need to feel comfortable at the launch and are adhering to the change.

Riccardo Cosentino, SNC-Lavalin Capital: I assess risk by understanding what happens if we do nothing compared to taking a risk on an opportunity. Will this opportunity enhance SNC Lavalin’s abilities? Will it give our firm an advantage? Is the cost benefit in line with our company’s values? Risks are worth it if there is a benefit to advancing our innovative strategies, portfolio, and provide a spotlight to SNC Lavalin’s capabilities. 

I don’t believe you ever know when the right time is to deploy new solutions in a project. That should not be the question if you want to be innovative. The question should be, “why are we not deploying new solutions to provide an exemplary product to our clients?” All aspects of the project should be looking at how we can deploy new solutions to better serve our clients. 

The main feature to new products or processes is simplicity. Is the deployment of this new service or product going to be difficult? Is the use of this new product or service going to be difficult? We see the value in the product  in terms of how easy it is to simplify. 

Nick Kurth, PCL Construction: There is little to no precedence in how most new technologies integrate efficiently into existing contractual processes, so there is always a heightened risk when introducing technical workflows. Assessing risk is extremely challenging with technology because the biggest variable is people. Even the simplest technology can fail, if even one “user” in the workflow refuses to accept change.  General contractors are allergic to risk, they avoid it at all costs and when that isn’t possible, they develop endless mitigation strategies. Many times, team members will insist on a parallel redundant legacy process “just in case” which can eliminate any value generation. When looking at new technologies we try to look at the various stakeholders and assess risk/value to the entire value stream. Sometimes it is not worth pursuing technologies because we know that some partners simply do not have the capacity.

Tannis Liviniuk, Trillium Advisory Group: If there is a pain point within the organization, the timing is right to explore alternative processes or solutions. We work with client teams to identify organizational or project goals and requirements, then shortlist process opportunities or technology solutions that will contribute to the achievement of those requirements. This is a time-consuming process. Clients look to us to minimize the “noise” and provide recommendations that drive the most substantial value for the investment. 

Risk is inevitable with any new process or technology deployment— as is opportunity. Conducting an options analysis is a great way to evaluate if the timing is right to explore the procurement or deployment of a solution. As a guiding principle, when approaching a project it’s always better to define your technology stack at the outset of the project, not midway. Trying to bolt-on solutions midway through a project is akin to building a new piece of a plane while 30,000 feet in the air. By conducting an options analysis, you can determine if the timing is right for the deployment, and if the benefits outweigh the risks. 

When choosing new products or processes, support availability and technology stability are two things that we look for. If the solution provider doesn’t provide services, and has a limited cadre of service providers, that’s usually a disqualifier for us. The same applies to technology stability. If the tech is new, or the process isn’t proven, we will evaluate and pilot, but we usually won’t deploy on a project of significant size until we’re confident that the solution is stable and historical uptime meets an acceptable level. 

Lucas Epp, StructureCraft: Right now, and over the last 10 - 20 years, with the software revolution and the startup space, there’s a big temptation to be wowed by demos and jump on a bandwagon —  to just start using it. But unfortunately often the software platforms fail and they don’t exist within one to two years. Only a very small number of them go on to be either acquired by one of the big giants or their relevant various technologies go on to phase out of existence or stop being supported.

Some of the key questions I ask are, “who’s behind this software or technology?”, and “where’s it going?”, “how do we make sure that if we’re going to standardize on it and that we’re going to use it?”, “is it going to be around for the foreseeable future?”, and if not, then “what is our strategy for being able to transition out of the platform if it no longer gets supported?”. So, We’ll beta test it on a project, take that feedback, and then start to assess at a higher level as to whether we should invest further.

Terence Tourangeau, SvN Architects + Planners: It’s tricky to balance risk and opportunity, but a lot of it comes down to having face-time with the creators and developers of the software. Especially with new or untested products, we must determine if the people are a good investment because the product or service will always be an evolving, changing organism. So we’re less concerned about the features that we see on “day one” and more concerned about how the company approaches problem-solving, how they understand what we’re trying to do, and if we can see a fruitful and productive partnership forming between us. So the key feature for us is the team. One other key feature is this: whatever new tools we want to invest in need to be compatible with our existing tools. Knowing the right time is whenever we can give it a test run and learn how to enjoy improved efficiencies. 

Colette Munro, AECOM: As CDO, I look at a number of different business and technical risk areas. One area of risk that we explored deeply in 2021 was the risk to our business of not adopting digital solutions fast enough.

We have classified this risk across 10 different barriers to adoption, and we are actively working on reducing those barriers for each transformation initiative.

For 2022, we see sustainability as a tremendous opportunity. For example, we can automate the calculation of embodied and operational carbon within all designs, and we can support the industry to evolve the data management of the relevant data needed for measuring sustainability performance. Our ScopeX™ process, which reduces carbon through design, will continue to mature and support our clients to reduce their carbon footprints by up to 50%. I see many solutions in the market that cover the basics and I will be watching closely as they develop to cover cost/carbon optimisation and move from expert tools to more accessible industry segment tools — digital with real purpose drives many of our people.

Tim Coldwell, Chandos Construction: There is too much of a focus on narrow, incremental innovation in our industry. We are interested in innovating at the system/industry level. We look for tools that optimize project outcomes and improve the industry and society (IPD, Net Zero, Social Procurement).

What could the industry do overall to provide better support for the development of new innovations in processes, technologies, and infrastructure?

Terence Tourangeau, SvN Architects + Planners: Our industry should offer more funding opportunities to innovation-led design firms. In the world of science and art, you can take an idea, create a proposal, and secure funding to see it through the preliminary stages, thereby setting the stage for additional funding and development. Our industry is ripe for further innovation on several fronts. Still, it stagnates because developers need to grind out ideas in their spare time rather than investing in resources and building proof-of-concept tools. Imagine how much progress we could make if grants or fellowships were available for AECOO software developers and paid for by software companies, construction firms, or CanBIM [Building Transformations]. Could there be more opportunities for industry cross-pollination with software developers — (perhaps specific to this organization) finding ways to involve them with Think Tanks or ensuring outreach to them around CanBIM’s [Building Transformations] local and national events.

Tim Coldwell, Chandos Construction: The design and construction industry is incredibly fragmented with many believing that they have some sort of “secret sauce” to protect and not share. There is no such thing as “secret sauce”. Our industry would be served well if more competitors shared innovation. A good way to do that is through academic research that surfaces key challenges and opportunities for our industry to collectively address.

Eric Lessard, Pomerleau: The Canadian construction industry could work towards being more open and adaptable to technological change. The pandemic has pushed the industry to adapt and we have proven that we can do so and continue to be productive during a world pandemic. We need to maintain that open mind, be more risk averse and embrace the technological change that is going to solve industry problems.  

The government is already investing in innovative manufacturing and prefabrication across Canada but their contracts do not reflect that high devotion to innovative construction. A Government’s mandate has proven to boost the level of innovation in other countries; Canada needs to develop a plan that works for its many different regions or push the provinces to develop their own plans.

The whole Canadian industry needs to come together to break silos, provide support in all ways (resources, grants, etc.) and have strong requirements for adoption and use of technologies.

Colette Munro, AECOM: Any industry innovation has a human element, and so it’s perhaps not surprising that I think the industry focus should be on people. There are two areas through which an increased focus in this regard will build a more supportive culture of digital innovation in our industry.

Firstly, the industry could support and encourage more leaders with proven digital innovation backgrounds to take senior roles within industry (both within professional services, design services, construction services, as well as owner operators, etc.). These leaders are able to translate from “tech speak” to specific business case details. They are able to help the senior executive decision makers see the opportunities that they see.  

In addition, the industry could educate engineers and designers on the latest technology trends, and the future “art of the possible”, recognising their evolution and maturation. Engineers need to become more comfortable with embracing new and different ways of working.  Fostering curiosity through showcasing the industry’s success is a great way to support the digital talent, both in Canada and globally. 

Nick Kurth, PCL Construction: The AECOO industry still needs to learn how to effectively use the technology we already have and stop selling technical jargon to clients as value added capability. There is so much misunderstanding about what is possible with technology, who does what, the cost associated, the end deliverables and the value generated that we very seldom see an RFP that allows for processes improvement or innovation but inadvertently leads to needless scope creep and redundant rework. The entire value chain is constrained by the contractual delivery choices of the client. If the client does not understand the costs, stakeholder roles, technical limitations, schedule modifications etc. then they ask for what they always have asked for (paper), in the same way they have always asked for it (low bid), and THAT suppresses technology value generation. The biggest opportunity lies in how clients procure projects, structure their contracts, and define deliverables.

Lucas Epp, StructureCraft: The startup world is a difficult one — even getting the seed money to start is very challenging. The AECOO space has seen a significant increase in funding over the last few years — especially in green tech. But the funding in comparison to FinTech or other sectors is very small in comparison. If we can attract some of the bigger players who have the deep pockets to invest in Research in Design (R in D), that will encourage the incubators and therefore encourage the startups. In our industry, there are a lot of consultants and contractors tackling short term problems, but the small margins for R in D, don’t lend much space to rethink long term solutions.

I think companies who start investing heavily in R in D today will, in 5, 10, 15 years, see that they are the leaders in the industry. They’re going to be the ones who jumped out ahead of the pack.

Riccardo Cosentino, SNC-Lavalin Capital: The industry as a whole needs to put more emphasis on up-skilling. More companies and clients need to provide support and time for training. Clients need to understand what to ask for and how to ask for it. There needs to be guidelines in place to eliminate the improper information being spread about the innovative technologies and procedures in our industry.

The industry should be involved with clients to provide suggestions on mandates and requirements in projects that match what can currently be accomplished, rather than the dream of what should be.

Tannis Liviniuk, Trillium Advisory Group: To facilitate greater levels of innovation, organizations must ensure that leaders who pursue innovation efforts do not encounter professional or career sanctions when those efforts don’t achieve their intended outcomes. If project managers are reprimanded for failed efforts or are concerned that they will experience negative career impacts, they are far less likely to take calculated risks when evaluating and deploying new processes and technologies. Far too many project leaders are concerned about “sticking their neck out” for fear that the initiative may not be a complete success.  Leaders should be aware and disciplined with regards to scope creep. There are many innovative ideas that include relatively small technology investments, but they never get deployed because others in the organization are allowed to continually add functionality and capabilities above and beyond the original scope and intent.  If the new idea and technology do end up getting deployed, it ends up taking twice as long and costing twice as much as originally intended.

Innovation and advancement take time; there are always opportunities to learn. If we are truly going to make advancements as an industry, organizations must find ways to incentivise the adoption and championship of new programs so long as they are well planned, managed, and maintain a continuous improvement focus. If the status quo is the safe route, and the safe route is what’s incentivized, the majority of leaders will continue along the current path, which results in stagnation instead of growth. 

Lastly, don’t ask small startups for free pilots. If they are continuously delivering free work, they can’t improve or grow. The industry needs new and innovative technology solutions. Embrace and support them; don’t deplete them of  development runway to prove out their solution for one specific use case.

What are some common archetypes or patterns in the structure or philosophy of the new technologies that you choose to incorporate into your practice?

Nick Kurth, PCL Construction: Ethics and values are always important, we do not do business with anybody that we perceive as unethical: clients, companies, and even entire countries. Trust, reputation, and credibility is paramount. 

Colette Munro, AECOM: Working with start-ups whose values closely align with ours is important. They should be as passionate as we are about delivering a better world and work with us to adapt and evolve as we deliver on varying client needs.  We also seek innovators that are providing a more efficient and high-quality way of working. The solutions must be easily integrated into our overall workflow (through open data standards and APIs).

Additionally, they must adhere to a high standard of cyber security architecture and practices review, and so cyber security needs to be something start-ups embrace from the beginning. Lastly, our partnerships are a two-way street, and we offer start-ups a collaborative environment to succeed in developing new and innovative solutions.

Eric Lessard, Pomerleau: Pomerleau has innovation as a value as it is in its DNA. It’s something valued and democratized internally: everyone can be a catalyst for change and the innovation team is here to help and support all activities. In everything we do, we need to think operations first: it must be easy to use, connected and enhance the ability and user experience. We are trying to make construction easier, not more complicated. At times we are looking to replace an existing software or multiple software with one SMART platform.

The other mindset that we are adopting to move forward is that we’re always looking for partners instead of services/tools suppliers. We don’t want to be clients; we want to be an active part of the change and work hand in hand with other businesses.

Tim Coldwell, Chandos Construction: People buy from people who share the same values and vendors who aren’t aligned with us are not likely to work with us. We are interested in how technology can be used to make things better for people. Safety robots are cool but we’re more interested in using technology to help people. Contractors are uniquely positioned to impact society positively. We can use business as a force for good by leveraging our influence and supply chains to: reduce embodied carbon, move the needle on diversity, create paths to high paying construction jobs for indigenous youth and engage new Canadians in our industry. The list goes on and the opportunities to have a positive impact are significant.

Terence Tourangeau, SvN Architects + Planners: At SvN, it’s important that a startup has a vision and roadmap of what they’re doing and where they want to go. Without that kind of forward-looking mindset, it’s often difficult to imagine that our relationship with the company will be anything other than “fee for service,” and it just ends up being another bill that we pay every month. Particularly for startups, a lot of the value is in the dialogue between us, so there needs to be a philosophy of openness, communication, and seeing us as a team member, not just another customer.

Riccardo Cosentino, SNC-Lavalin Capital: The mindset has to be geared towards open collaboration. I should not have to purchase other products to facilitate the interoperability between my current tools and procedures. A startup must have a high level and understanding of the needed security in today’s projects as well as an understanding of Canadian projects and requirements. Any company I do business with must have a structure that will support implementation and usage in my projects. There cannot be a one tool philosophy, interoperability is key.

Lucas Epp, StructureCraft: On an ethical level we certainly want to know what the mindset or viewpoint of this startup is. Where are they trying to go? What is their vision? We would try to make sure it aligns with where we see the industry going. Further, we’re interested in companies that have similar viewpoints in terms of sustainability, how we deal with waste, and their understanding of timber structures — if there’s an implied focus on natural materials and therefore sustainability that we look for.

Tannis Liviniuk, Trillium Advisory Group: Trillium’s mission is to help organizations and teams design, build, and operate best-in-class facilities and assets through the deployment of industry practices, innovations, and technology solutions. We seek out partner organizations that share our vision; internally, we procure and deploy technology solutions that aid us in achieving our mission and that create opportunities, improvements, and value for our clients.

Technology is a strategic enabler in our space. Process augmentation is the goal. Good technology supports good process; the combination drives improvements in project or asset performance potential. We seek out and work with solution providers that share in the pursuit of tackling real and complex industry challenges. We like to work with technology providers that understand the space, are addressing a critical problem, and that are breaking down barriers in solution application and adoption that maximize value creation potential.

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