Munich pulsates with tech vibe
It was impossible to escape proptech at EXPO REAL this year. Wherever you turned, there were bright young entrepreneurs eager to explain their technology to all who would listen. Even for the industry’s ‘old guard’, it is clear that the role of the real estate industry is changing, thanks to the accelerating pace of new technological developments.
The need for answers on how this will impact the built environment and what it means for those active in real estate, was reflected in the large turnout at the Real Estate Innovation Forum conference sessions in Munich. Coen van Oostrom, founder and CEO of Edge Technologies, pointed out that ‘big data enables personalised smart buildings that benefit from data-based decision-making and predictive behavioural patterns.’ And Tobias Kollmann, professor of E-Business and E-Entrepreneurship at the University of Duisburg-Essen, attracted a big audience for his keynote presentation on the impact of digitalisation on real estate. Amongst other things, he touched on the ‘piranhas’ and ‘elephants’ of digital transformation – the piranhas being the small but very aggressive start-ups that ‘bite’ themselves into the market, and the elephants being the big digital players which use their market power to trample down everything in their path to enter new markets.
More than 60 young technology companies presented themselves in the Real Estate Innovation Forum and nowhere was their presence as visible as at the Start-up Battlefield. Here, 25 of the best start-ups pitched their products and services to delegates and potential investors over the course of the three-day fair. The 25 finalists were chosen from a preliminary selection of over 1,600 fledgling firms in May this year.
Networking at an event like EXPO REAL is definitely a kick-starter for proptech firms and the established real estate companies they are hoping to influence. During the fair, German lender Aareal Bank announced that it was taking a non-controlling interest in BrickVest, a start-up which matches senior, mezzanine and equity investment opportunities with investors.
Christof Winkelman, management board member for structured property at Aareal, said that online platforms like BrickVest could penetrate and change the real estate lending industry, bringing new sources of capital. Aareal’s participation in BrickVest follows that of fellow German lender Berlin Hyp. Established investment managers are also jumping on the proptech bandwagon. In the run-up to EXPO REAL, Patrizia Immobilien announced it had bought a ‘strategic stake’ in Frankfurt-based artificial intelligence company Evana, which was founded just three years ago.
‘All the traditional property companies are ready for change and willing to cooperate with proptech firms to find innovative solutions,’ said Csongor Csukás, executive director of international property management at BNP Paribas Real Estate during PropertyEU’s Innovation & Proptech Investment Briefing. ‘There is a spirit of collaboration now, we are seen as transformers and enablers instead of disruptors,’ said Guillaume Fiastre, managing director of software and data services provider Altus Group.