INSIDE INNOVATION: Fabriq

Colin Ma, Chief Executive Officer of Fabriq talks to UKGBC about what its like to be an innovator in the built environment
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Published on

March 29, 2021

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What is your elevator pitch?

Fabriq develops a data and software platform designed for those committed to applying a data-driven and holistic approach to make their buildings greener, more efficient, and more sustainable.

Our platform is capable of processing data from multiple sources on an automated basis to give a more complete picture of how a building can be optimised. It features a number of purpose-built modules that can be used to track the sustainability performance of projects and report performance. This means end users can really operationalise an end-to-end process to drive continual improvement.

Our unique selling point is that we are willing to push the envelope to deliver a product that is accessible to various stakeholders. We know engagement is important, so we want to make sure our solutions are accessible for both technical and non-technical users.

How did you get to where you are today?

It hasn’t always been easy. It required many iterations to build out the capabilities of our platform. We required a lot of feedback and close collaboration with partners and customers. We needed to remain committed to our company’s mission and have a ‘North Star’ to drive what we do on a day-to-day basis. It gives us energy when we hear from our partners and customers that we are doing our part and we look forward to continuing to work together.

Our founder, Benjamin Kott, and I met when we were both working at Google. We wanted to apply our tech backgrounds to something we believed in, so that was the genesis of our company. We have always been a very purpose-driven organisation.

We also have a number of supporters to thank, including our investors who believed in us when the company first started as well as our customers and partners today, of course. We have also been lucky enough to be selected to take part in a number of programmes designed to help start-ups develop, including those that Innovate UK, Plug and Play, and the Innovation Gateway organised. These programmes have been great as they help us refine our project and connect us with potential partners, customers, and investors. For example, the latest programme that we have been selected for is one that Microsoft and the Social Tech Trust set up. The programme will help us examine how AI as well as impact assessments can be better incorporated into what we do as a company. So yes, a lot more for us to look forward to, and we are grateful to those who have helped us along the way.

What does innovation mean to you?

It really means challenging the status quo. Doing something smarter and better.

More specifically in our industry it is about continuing to work with our customers and partners to find new ways to improve the sustainability performance in the built environment.

There is still a lot of room for innovations. For us as a company we want to do things smarter and better and as a start-up we have more flexibility to do that on a very agile basis.

For us the product is never going to be finished, we always want to improve it and make it more useful.

How hungry is the built environment for innovation?

The time is now to innovate. Various stakeholders from investors to occupiers are pushing for innovation. It feels like a very exciting time to be in the industry and innovation is a key topic of conversation.

We need to get more projects from the pilot phase to full deployment so we can really see an impact. It is encouraging to see larger organisations getting more involved as well who want to bring start-ups and their solutions to the table.

What needs to change to help encourage more innovation?

Some in the industry are more progressive than others in challenging the status quo. More success stories will help drive others to innovate and take more risks to do something more progressive. We really want to make sure those who want to partner with us on their innovation journeys can be in the best position to be successful in order to inspire others to start their own journeys.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a start-up?

There are too many to mention! There have definitely been ups and downs. We are constantly being challenged to make good decisions while remaining true to our company and our mission. Sometimes we make the wrong decisions, but we always try to learn from these to do better and keep innovating. Although challenging and tiring at times, it is a lot of fun and it is good to see something that you believe in realised when things work as planned or, better yet, exceed expectations.

What’s next for your company?

Continue refining our platform and helping existing and prospective customers and partners on their journey to make buildings more sustainable. For example, we are continuing to refine our platform in alignment with the latest guidelines on net zero carbon buildings. We want to have more of a dialogue to see what else we can do to help. Being a member of UKGBC is a great way for us to get that feedback.

Overall we want to keep on innovating and help others in the industry who want to innovate as well.