Winners have been announced for the 2021 COINS Grand Challenge, a global competition organised by Construction Industry Solutions (COINS), which aims to drive innovation across the construction industry

The COINS Grand Challenge has two entry categories, professional (Open Competition) and student (Undergraduate Competition). This year’s shortlist included entrants from Sri Lanka, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia and Zimbabwe.

Judged by influential industry leaders, the two winning ideas aim to improve construction efficiency.

The two winning ideas

A former architect based in Canada, Mario Selvaraj, won the Open Competition with DAISY, an innovative system that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to produce structural timber designs. DAISY uses genetic programming to find an optimal design.

Kasia Borowska, marketing director at DAISY, said: “DAISY will have a profound impact on the construction industry, notably with structural engineers, architects and builders. It will enable savings of cost, time and promote sustainability. There are about 50,000 ways in which a simple rectangular shaped floor can be structured, which can take a structural engineer up to three hours to design – DAISY does this with a click of a button.”

A chemical engineering student from India, Abhishek Kumar Patra was announced as the winner of the Undergraduate Competition, promoting the idea of self-healing bacteria-based concrete utilising limestone-producing bacteria.

He describes the benefits: “Keeping track of minor damage such as cracks is both extremely difficult and expensive. Using self-healing concrete could eliminate the need for these checks and repair damage as soon as it is formed. Not only will this reduce the maintenance costs significantly, but it will also ensure the safety of the people who are using it on a daily basis.”

The Open Competition runner-up was eco-entrepreneur Valentina Dipietro, founder of Mykor, with her idea for a sustainable insulation material grown from forest waste and fungi.

Valentina describes what inspired her idea: “I’m a designer and researcher designing with waste. The main inspiration came from analysing waste streams in my native country Sicily and wanting to preserve the area’s biodiversity.

“Our insulation is made from waste and fungi. The boards look like foam but unlike polystyrene, they’re completely renewable and versatile while presenting high thermal performance and fire resistance.

“The impact on the construction industry is going to be huge. With 38% of worldwide carbon emissions coming from construction, we need to significantly cut embodied carbon in our buildings.”

Students Rohan Ghosalkar and Deepti Shetty, based in India, were runners-up in the Undergraduate Competition with Averto, a fast and quick emergency response to workplace accidents.

Rohan explains how important this is: “Nearly 40% of all the accidents in the construction industry are caused due to fall-related incidents, causing nearly 6.5m people to risk their lives. Our solution, once scaled, can mitigate the risk caused to human life by reducing the time taken to alert the emergency services and get medical aid.”

What did the judges say?

The judges for the COINS Grand Challenge 2021 included Mark Beard, chairman and chief executive of UK construction company EW Beard.

He said: “We are often seen as a very traditional industry with minimal innovation. Very pleasingly, COINS Grand Challenge blows apart this misconception; drawing out individuals who are prepared to challenge the status quo in so many different ways. It has been a joy to be part of the COINS Grand Challenge judging panel for the last two years.”

This is the second year that Susan Jackson, joint managing director of Campion Homes, has been on the judging panel.

She said: “It was great to hear from so many innovators who demonstrated a real passion for improving the built environment, particularly in the critical areas of carbon reduction and safety.”

US-based Stuart Binstock, president and CEO of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), added: “Having been a judge now for a few years, this competition reinforces for me that the construction industry can be innovative and our future is in good hands with all of the talent looking for new solutions to age-old construction industry problems.”

The final judge for 2021, Kevin Lasitz is a senior partner development manager at Microsoft.

He said: “It was inspiring to see so many great ideas and passion for improving the construction industry in the important areas of sustainability and safety using innovative technology.”

Inspiring industry innovation

This is the sixth COINS Grand Challenge, which is a global competition for anyone with innovative ideas that have the power to positively impact the built environment or the construction industry.

Construction Industry Solutions (COINS) is a leading construction management software and services company providing end-to-end business solutions to the construction, engineering, homebuilding and service sectors.

As COINS has built up its business, it is also passionate about giving something back to the construction industry – which is why it organises the annual COINS Grand Challenge.

Robert Brown, group CEO of COINS, has played a key role in driving the development of this global competition.

He said: “I am delighted to see how the COINS Grand Challenge has grown into a truly global competition. Through this initiative, COINS has been able to inspire innovation across the industry and support students, innovators and entrepreneurs who want to make a difference and shape the future of our world.”

Entries for the next COINS Grand Challenge open in February 2022. For more details visit


Robert Brown

Group CEO

Construction Industry Solutions

Twitter: @coinsglobal

LinkedIn: COINS


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