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Why We're Launching an Accelerator to Build Housing Better

  • June 14, 2024
  • 7 min

Ben White, Builders Lab Director

Innovators in housing construction and delivery find themselves at a unique crossroads in 2024. Founders face amplified skepticism from the traditional entrepreneurial ecosystem, while navigating big problems - financing, product-market fit, and complex regulations - to varying degrees of success. At the same time, the growing acuity of the housing crisis, the steady rise in construction costs, and the increasing focus on sustainability in the built environment necessitate innovation and set the stage for disciplined, capable new entrants with resilient business models.

Launching this month, the Builders Lab will uplift these emerging leaders and their innovations. We are a non-profit, cohort-based accelerator founded to work with innovators in architecture, engineering, construction and hardware to scale efficient, cost-effective and sustainable methods of housing delivery across the U.S.

The program will support up to 6 geographically diverse early- to middle-stage companies over 9 months, offering expert coaching, curated curriculum, visibility to our extensive network of regulators and policymakers across all levels of government, and relationship-building opportunities with a growing list of strategic partners and advisors. We will also host an international study tour to deepen cohort members’ familiarity with mature industrialized construction ecosystems abroad.

The Builders Lab is a program of Terner Labs and is affiliated with the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at U.C. Berkeley; we enjoy the generous support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

We’re eager to offer all of the resources at our disposal to support our innovators and enrich the broader industrialized construction ecosystem. Our goal is for cohort members to rapidly increase the scale of their businesses and to step into amplified leadership roles within their regional markets and the broader industrialized construction sector.

Based on recent conversations we’ve had with our network of contacts, we’ve identified a few areas of interest we’re keen to see represented in the Builders Lab cohort (though these are by no means exclusive):

Granular modularity

We’ve consistently heard that flexibility and nimbleness are key to viability in this capital intensive, market-driven sector. We’ve noticed these traits in emerging manufacturers, dealers and developers working with panelized and “kit of parts” housing modules, and in volumetric-focused companies who are innovating to optimize their operations and product suite.


In our conversations with the private sector and policymakers at the state and federal level, we’ve seen greater recognition of the interconnectedness of the climate and housing crises. We’re eager to support innovators whose products enable affordable and repeatable home decarbonization through sustainable use of construction materials, electrification, and energy efficiency.

Digitalization to support modularization

The digital world has always been a ripe area of opportunity for leaders innovating in the physical one, and the growing momentum around artificial intelligence illustrates exciting new possibilities. We’re keen to work with companies whose digital solutions enable the demand aggregation and risk management needed to scale modular residential construction.

We’re at a crucial moment of opportunity - let’s seize it together and catalyze industry transformation.

The Builders Lab application opens on June 25th - sign up here for updates, and reach out to with questions.