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If there were any lingering doubts about the growing importance of technology in real estate they were surely laid to rest at MIPIM 2018.

There is a school of thought that 2016 was the year of awareness of proptech and a willingness to understand what it meant for the industry. Then 2017 became the year of agents, property companies and asset managers signing up for technology across many applications.

And as Charlie Wade, UK MD of the proptech firm VTS, told MIPIM News: “I strongly believe that 2018 will be the year when people actually adopt technology and see the real return on their investment.”

As a measure of how far technology has been taken up by the industry, the analytics firm CB Insights says that investment in proptech has totalled $9.7bn globally since 2011. In fact, half of that total has come in the past two years. This is an accelerating trend.

All of which was evident in conference sessions and numerous presentations during the week, and not least in MIPIM’s third Startup Competition, which attracted a huge audience when the winners were announced on the Wednesday. Indeed, the audience was three times the size of previous years – another sign of the proptech times.

The competition winner was Norway’s Disruptive Technologies, producer of what it claims to be the world’s smallest wireless sensor. The company, which was also exhibiting at MIPIM for the second year, uses its sensor technology by working with other partners to create case-specific solutions such as space monitoring and comfort management within buildings.

Second in the competition was Workwell, which allows building services to be centralised in one app. Third was PHYSEE, a company that has developed “the world’s first fully transparent energy and data generating windows and transformed existing single purpose material glass into a form of power”.

As Aaron Block, co-founder and MD of MetaProp NYC and MIPIM’s real estate tech partner, told the audience, all the businesses that entered the competition were “a calibre above what we have seen in previous years”.

But it didn’t just take the Startup Competition to show the breadth of innovation and enterprise out there. Many firms used MIPIM to launch technologies, including Lithuania’s PropTech Baltic with its RealBox, which is claimed to be the first proptech “sandbox” in the world.

RealBox’s objective is to tackle an industry-wide issue. Proptech companies need to test their technology and concepts with trial runs before going to market – this usually involves finding property partners and spending time and money into figuring out and carrying out the needed improvements. RealBox helps companies cut the time and costs needed to run pilot tests by providing set-up free of charge.

RealBox is just one example of the growing influence of proptech, which will be reinforced in June 20-21, 2018 with the launch of MIPIM PropTech Europe in Paris. The French government has put its weight behind developing the country’s tech sector and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, Julien Denormandie, spent much of his time at MIPIM enthusiastically talking with tech and startup companies in the Innovation Forum.

“Technology is increasingly providing innovative solutions and ideas for the real estate sector and MIPIM PropTech Europe will be a unique opportunity for real estate leaders, tech companies and investors to come together to discuss tech trends and do business,” said Reed MIDEM’s Filippo Rean.

MIPIM PropTech Europe will no doubt show that technology has many and varied applications for the benefit of real estate. But as Disruptive Technologies CEO, Erik Fossum Faerevaag explained to the Startup Competition audience, his technology enables “cost savings, increased margins and improved tenant relations”.

Right now, that neatly sums up much of what is good about proptech.

 

Written by Doug Morrison at MIPIM News.

 

Top photo © from2015/GettyImages


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