TL; DR Using AI to design linear infrastructure is a multi-billion dollar global opportunity, and Grzegorz, Matt, Adam and Emil are incredibly well-positioned to build the leader in this category in this space.
How it all started
It was summer 2019. I was booked to attend the Turing Fest when it was still possible to fly and attend events ((). I looked forward to exploring Edinburgh and getting out of London for a few days.
A week before the event, a LinkedIn message hit my inbox from one of the founders of Continuum Industries, Grzegorz Marecki.
It immediately caught my attention.
The construction is absolute of interest to Playfair. Indeed, this is an area that we have been looking forward to since Fund II was launched.
The rest of the message is a textbook example of a successful cold incoming message:
- Used the Turing Fest event to make the news relevant
- Summarizes in one sentence what Continuum Industries does
- Teased me with details of her first corporate client, also in one sentence
- Summarized the company’s history and financing – with a strong angel investor and the validation of a DfT grant – in one sentence
- Attached the deck so I could check out if I had a chance
- Has given both email and mobile contacts so I can get in touch with you either after receiving his message or during the day
Accidentally, I immediately responded by email asking questions.
Fast forward to the day of the event and it was hectic. The 1-1 slots that Grzegorz was referring to ran most of the day and I was pretty exhausted when I made it down to the lower ground floor of the venue to look at some of the booths.
Here I came across Grzegorz, who noticed my Playfair t-shirt and grabbed me for a short demo. We talked about HS2, which is too close to my parents’ garden for convenience, while he showed me a demo of their route planning system. Although I was a little tired, I was overwhelmed and delighted that he had insisted on tracking me down at the venue.
Applying AI to linear infrastructure
The video above is a year after I first met Grzegorz, but as we looked back on the summer of 2019 when we got to know the business, we were amazed by a number of key elements that have remained unchanged:
- Little to no technological innovation in this area. The design processes for linear infrastructures had remained unchanged for decades. They were manual, slow, and ripe for disruption from new technology.
- The impact of AI would be significant. As investors, we are not interested in incremental improvements, but in 10x, 100x or more. In this case, reducing the time it takes to plan a linear infrastructure project from ~ 6 months to a few weeks or even days is critical.
- Better results for everyone involved. In addition to speed and cost savings, the ability to look at more potential routes at the beginning and to adjust routes “on the fly” during the design process means that more, higher-quality and cheaper infrastructures will be built in the end.
From a technology perspective, we have seen the tremendous potential that Continuum Industries offers to any company involved in the planning and development of infrastructure projects. Superimpose the margin pressures that many of these companies are under and our thesis has been that in a short time, companies that do not use this technology will not be able to compete with those that are.
In summary, this technology is quickly becoming one need to have in this room.
A massive and growing market
Depending on which sources you look at, billions or trillions of dollars are spent on global infrastructure every year. The linear infrastructure is a major component of this and includes everything that runs from A -> B including:
We were particularly excited about the role Continuum has to play in the transition to carbon neutrality. The more countries that pursue this goal and commission renewable power generation sources such as offshore wind turbines, the more linear the infrastructure is to connect them to the power grid for distribution.
A young, passionate team with exceptional expertise
In 2017 Adam Anyszewski founded the Edinburgh Hyperloop Society, which has grown to over 100 members, including Grzegorz Marecki and Emil Hansen.
Out of a shared passion for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop vision, the team successfully built two working prototype pods, the second of which went to Silicon Valley in 2018, and then came up with the idea of building a global software business that didn’t just do rail works for all types of infrastructure.
Together with their fourth co-founder Matt Blythe, who has extensive experience advising infrastructure consultants, they founded Continuum Industries in June 2018 after graduating from college.
Grzegorz, Adam, Emil and Matt are a really outstanding founding team:
- You are young, but you have exceptionally deep expertise
- They live and breathe linear infrastructure with a common one real passion
- Unusually they cover the full range of skills required from the deeply technical to the commercial
Reflections after closing
Continuum benefits from two strong tailwinds that we did not anticipate when we invested.
First, the economic challenges caused by the global pandemic have led governments around the world to renew their commitment to investing in infrastructure. This is in line with what happened after the 2008 financial crisis and shows the countercyclical nature of this sector.
Second, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recently launched Green Industrial Revolution has an ambitious goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. Achieving this lofty goal will require significant investments in new infrastructure, particularly renewable energy and distribution, which will significantly increase the demand for Continuum technology.
The future of the company
Since graduation, Continuum has expanded the team to 14 employees, successfully expanded Optioneer, launched an oversubscribed early adopters program, welcomed its first paying client (Mott Macdonald), and rolled out its solution to companies around the world for water and water projects Hydrogen pipelines, wiring and more.