Adaptis’ proprietary, AI-driven software enables circularity in construction
Velocity startup secures foundation with $2M pre-seed round
By Naomi Grosman
Within a year since launching, Adaptis has raised $2 million from investors in Canada and the U.S. who specialize in cleantech, deeptech and renewable energy.
The company’s proprietary, artificial intelligence-driven software, born out of University of Waterloo research, enables circularity in construction, decarbonizing and material recycling for existing and new multi-family housing, commercial and institutional buildings.
“We think every building out there should be on our platform because building owners should be aware of how they can reuse materials, how they can reduce waste — both when the project is in its initial stage and during its entire life cycle,” says co-founder and CEO Sheida Shahi (PhD ‘21). “We are at a pivotal time to lengthen existing buildings’ lifecycle.”
She says the platform is a tool for building owners, architects and engineers that can lower costs, generate more design options, reduce project timelines and removes the need for consultants, who are often brought in to complete required assessments.
Charting an unpaved path
When Shahi was a practicing architect, she often asked herself, “how can we do better?”
She was interested in how buildings can be optimized through the design process and throughout their lifecycle to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. But when Shahi’s passion for researching circularity in building design was sparked, she had nowhere to turn — almost.
At the time, there was no recourse for an architect to pursue applied research. She convinced civil engineering professor Carl Haas, who was department chair at the time, to allow her to enroll in a PhD in civil and environmental engineering.
“He was intrigued by the topic, it’s what I pursued in my masters’ studies, and it was aligned to what he was thinking,” Shahi says. “I’ve also been told I can be persistent.”
With Haas, Shahi designed and taught the University’s first circular engineering course, where she met and started collaborating with Aida Mollaei (MES ‘20), Adaptis’ co-founder and chief technology officer, whose expertise includes developing novel methodologies and automating circularity of buildings.
“That’s when Aida and I got to work very closely together and we learned a lot from each other,” Shahi says.
University IP policy, Velocity helped fundraising
Through years of research and collaboration, Shahi and Mollaei knew their tech had the potential for commercialization and is backed by the University and Velocity helped their first fundraising round.
Because of the University’s creator-owned IP policy, meaning that the rights are owned by the researchers, the co-founders did not have to worry about constraining research and development, Shahi says.
Adaptis's patent is a big part of its scalability but the unique IP policy at the University isn’t immediately obvious to foreign investors, she adds.
“In the U.S., not everyone understands [the IP policy] because they are just not used to seeing it,” Shahi says. “The value of being a University of Waterloo startup and being part of Velocity is having that channel between investors — Velocity was a big help in communicating what the University stands for.”