Chinese tech media outlet 36Kr reported today that Zanecon (筑橙科技), a construction robot company, had bagged close to 100 million yuan ($15.5 million) from a Series A funding round.
The round was led by XVC, with participation from existing investor Lenovo Capital and exclusive financial advisory services from Index Capital.
Established in 2018, Zanecon is an all-in-one construction service provider covering the development, production, and manufacturing of construction robots.
It aims to use robotics to standardize construction workflows to ensure consistent quality and replace human labor in highly risky work.
The company has developed several construction robots, including an exterior wall spray-painting device that has already been applied by multiple real estate companies across China to mitigate the risks associated with operating at a height.
Zanecon’s solutions cover exterior wall design, exterior wall putty, exterior wall auxiliary construction, exterior wall spray painting, and exterior wall quality assurance.
The company focuses on end-to-end customer solutions, covering the entire construction processes, so as to achieve across-the-board automation, improve the overall efficiency of the industry and deliver value to clients.
As of 2022, Zanecon’s robots had spray-painted hundreds of thousands of sqm of walls. The company’s commercialization efforts shifted into a higher gear in 2023, as it has already signed more contracts in one month after the Chinese New Year than last year.
The startup is already on the lookout for the next round of financing.
In the labor-intensive construction industry, labor costs have a significant impact on the operational costs of construction companies.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, there were 734 production safety accidents in the construction industry in China in 2021, of which 383 were related to falling from height, representing 52% of the total.
This underscores the urgent need for safer and more efficient construction practices, particularly in high-risk areas like high-altitude work.
With an aging population and growing safety concerns around high-altitude construction work, the cost of labor is expected to further spiral upward.
“Construction accounts for 70% of the total production costs while the remainder goes to materials, and construction work itself makes up more than twice the value of paintwork,” said Zheng Duan, general manager of Zanecon. “If human labor were to be supplanted by robots, the market for newly built homes would reach 100 billion yuan every year, and the market for renovation of existing building facades will be worth 200 billion yuan every year going forward.”
“Construction and decoration are industries worth trillions of yuan, and the application of robotics in this industry is a high-ceiling entrepreneurial sector,” XVC partner Hu Boyu said. “However, this sector also poses a high challenge for automation, as the demands of construction and decoration are dispersed in countless scenarios, with many corner cases requiring targeted training.”