Derq at SXSW

Property innovations dominate SXSW Pitch

Proptech was one of the dominant trends at this year’s SXSW Pitch event, with Artificial Intelligence firm Derq and nanotechnology specialist UbiQD taking home trophies.

Now in its eleventh year, the competition marked the opening of the 2019 SXSW, an annual amalgamation of film, media, music festivals and conferences, that takes place in Austin, Texas.

Famed for its tech content, the conference brought together 50 innovative startups from across the globe, all of which pitched in front of a live audience and panel of expert judges.

Trends at the event included virtual reality, blockchain and artificial intelligence designed to disrupt industries such as property, healthcare, sports and entertainment. Each of the 10 winners were awarded $4,000, badges for the 2020 SXSW conference, a trophy and exposure to potential investors.

Recognising smart city potential

Based out of Dubai and Detroit, smart city solution Derq was crowned the winner of the Artificial Intelligence category.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-out and Techstars alum, the firm is using AI and vehicle communication technology to predict and prevent car accidents, with the mission to make roads safer for today’s drivers and tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles.

Meanwhile, energy technology company UbiQD won the hyper-connected communities award for its nanotech-enabled window film called UbiGro.

The technology has been designed to enable building-integrated sunlight harvesting and potentially revolutionise urban architecture by turning tinted windows into power sources.


UbiQD’s nanotech-enabled window film called UbiGro has the potential to enable building-integrated sunlight harvesting

With this tech, buildings may eventually realise net zero energy consumption or even end up supplying its grid with electricity. Headquartered in New Mexico the firm, which employs 11 people, is funded by the likes of NASA and made $1m (£760k) of revenue last year.

Hunter McDaniel, founder and CEO of UbiQD, told PlaceTech: “Bringing home the best pitch award is a huge win for our team. Among other things, it shows that even a ‘deep tech’ based startup, commercialising hard science (quantum nanomaterials), can effectively communicate their story to a broad audience.”

Many of the 50 finalists also demonstrated solutions for the property industry, including:

  • MyHouseBy, a home construction platform which allows buyers to design and build homes online, as well as personalise them using augmented reality
  • Eco-modular homes builder NODE, which states it leverages technology to produce high performance, sustainable homes that give back more than they take
  • Big data specialist Autonomous Electric Transport System, looking to transform the transportation industry with its autonomous trucks

Autonomous Electric Transport System Truck

  • RoadBotics, an infrastructure technology company which uses AI to help governments and engineering firms make data-driven decisions with objective road assessments

Roadbotics SXSW

  • Tunnelware, a product which creates digital twins of construction sites and tunnels in order to monitor and manage the construction process in real-time on a 5D platform virtually, for a safer environment

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