Michael Beckerman's efforts to inspire the real estate sector to tackle climate change are not always met with positive feedback.

The chief executive and founder of CREtech, which runs real estate tech conferences across the globe, says that the move towards real estate addressing ESG is clearer to see in Europe. But in the US there is a long way to go. "I get a tremendous amount of hate mail," he adds. It's venomous. There are the climate deniers - and these are often people from within the real estate sector. Then there are the people who ask 'why should I be paying for this?' It is really, really hard."

That is why, he says, CREtech is set on travelling outside of the States to cities like London and Copenhagen to discuss these issues and bring together the key players required to make significant in-roads in addressing some of the industry's thorniest ESG-related problems.  

The hope is that the resulting intel will help to move the US market forward at a more rapid pace. Because, he adds, the time is now.

"Real estate doesn’t move organically. It moves when external factors force change. Change, right now, is being forced."

To hear more from Beckerman tune into the podcast or join him at CREtech London on 27th-28th April https://www.cretech.com/events or CREtech Climate in Copenhagen https://cretechclimate.com/.

Redefining real estate as a product rather than as asset could be the trick to tackling complex and overwhelming ESG targets, says the founder of one of Europe’s most active sustainable urbanism funds.

Speaking on an episode of Tech Talk Radio, Mikkel Bulow-Lehnsby, co-founder of Copenhagen-based fund 2150 said that property companies have been lulled into "short-term shareholder timeframes" and that 2150 has been set up to help the industry reframe the urban environment. "We should try not to see real estate as an asset, but as a product," he said on this episode of Tech Talk Radio. "We need to focus on how we make that product more sustainable, customer-centric and efficient."

Bulow-Lehnsby, who also co-founded European real estate investor NREP, added that anyone who is still part of the climate change problem within 10 years "won't have a business."

He was joined on the podcast by former Sidewalk Labs head of sustainability Nicole LeBlanc who is now platform partner at 2150. She said that with so much time pressure on the sector to embrace and fuel change fast, the noise within the industry around ESG can be overwhelming. She said that 2150's investors often come to them saying they have more than one tech company offering the same solution and they don't know where to start. "Don't get analysis paralysis," she said. "Put them all up against each other, work out what the outcome would be if you implemented each of them within your business. Ask for customer references and feedback. Pilot two of them if you still aren't sure. But you have to start somewhere."

For all of this and more on everything from first steps to the importance of funds and real estate firms sharing key tech solutions rather than curating technology for their own benefit, tune in to the podcast. 

You can also join both LeBlanc and Bulow-Lehnsby at CREtech Climate in Copenhagen on May 17th-19th. Find more information and registration details here www.cretechclimate.com 

 

On this episode of Tech Talk Radio, head of content Emily Wright is joined by Cluttons head of research Sophy Moffat to explore the implications of a gradual "watering down" of connectivity targets at government level. 

Following the release of the much anticipated Levelling Up white paper earlier this month, it has been noted that while connectivity and technology underpin much of the social advancements outlined within it, there is little focus on improvements to the technology itself. 

In fact, says Moffat, the opposite is arguably true. "In the 2019 election manifesto from the Johnson government we had a pledge of 100% Gigabit connectivity to all UK premises by 2025," she says. "Later, in the November 2020 spending review we were told 80-85% of premises covered by 2025. Now, in the Levelling Up white paper, the most recent iteration of targets, we were told we would have nationwide access to Gigabit connectivity by 2030 and that the majority of the population will have 5G access by then. That’s added five years onto the Gigabit target and a good three years on to the target for 5G coverage. That’s where our concern comes from."

On this podcast Moffat explores some of the actions and steps the property industry and local authorities across the UK can take to tackle this issue from raising awareness to supporting the appointment of digital champions at local authority level.

"The sector needs to raise awareness around the fact that many crucial technologies will only be supported with 5G and Gigabit internet in place. Our research also shows that local authorities with digital champions in place and good digital strategies were much more likely to have an effective relationship with digital infrastructure providers and operators. The problem is that less than half of them actually have one in place."

For more on how real estate can, and should, tackle the watering down of connectivity targets and the impact this apparent step down on initial goals could have on the Levelling Up agenda more widely, tune in to this episode of Tech Talk Radio. 

On this episode of Tech Talk Radio, EG head of content Emily Wright speaks to Insurami chief executive and founder Majed Chaaraoui and head of partnerships Jack Sibley. 

Launched in 2019, Insurami effectively operates as a large-scale Deposit Guarantee platform for commercial real estate and is currently used by companies including The Howard De Walden Estate, Level39 and Huckletree. 

Rather than forking out a hefty deposit in one go, tenants pay a monthly fee to the platform for a Deposit Guarantee. This then pays out to the landlord – up to the maximum cover value of £600,000 – if there is a default on the lease.

Off the back of last month's announcement that Fasanara Capital has joined existing investors including Global Founders Capital, Entrepreneur First and Clocktower Ventures in a £42m raise to facilitate Insurami’s expansion, the duo reveal what those growth plans will entail. 

They also explain why they believe their tech solution will release billions of pounds worth of otherwise illiquid funds caught up within the real estate sector. 

Hybrid working looks to be here to stay. That not only means that offices need to work harder than ever before to lure tenants back but a wide range of other asset classes must up their connectivity game.  

On this episode of Tech Talk Radio, EG head of content Emily Wright is joined by Wiredscore president William Newton and Watkins Jones head of divestment and asset management George Dyer to discuss just that. 

Wiredscore research has revealed that over half of Europeans consider their internet to be better at home than in the workplace. As the world gears up to embrace hybrid working, it is clear there is more to be done to ensure that connectivity is supporting hybrid working across a number of asset classes including offices, BTR and purpose-built student accommodation. 

"The key thing now for us as developers is to design places where people want to live and a critical part of that now is also where people want to work," said BTR and student accommodation developer Watkins Jones' Dyer. "For us, connectivity is a key part of that as well as looking at how we can integrate things like business lounges and co-working spaces into our buildings and really create an environment where people are happy to live and work."

Newton said: “Looking to the future, we don’t think the productive home-working we saw during the pandemic was a temporary shift. This is a new way or work and a better, more constructive way for people to live their lives. We are now incredibly well set up for remote work and landlords should be thinking very carefully about setting it up for people who want it.”

JLL's launch of JLL Short Stays in partnership with Lavanda last month is set to plug a gap in the market with a platform "to rival Airbnb". 

JLL director Sam Winnard and Lavanda's chief executive Frederik Lerche-Lerchenborg joined EG's Emily Wright on the latest episode of Tech Talk Radio to reveal the thinking behind the launch and why they believe the residential sector needs to be better when it comes to embracing flexibility. 

The new booking platform has been launched to offer business and leisure travellers professionally managed and fully flexible short-term rental accommodation in the UK.

"We realised there is a huge amount of demand for medium term,  quality inventory," said Lerche-Lerchenborg. "People are relocating. People are in between long-term tenancies and the relationship with the office is changing. People are increasingly looking to book 3-month or 6-month stays, especially around the UK. But finding that high quality inventory is very difficult.

"We realised that we have a whole load of different partners including JLL clients but also other big asset managers like Greystar and Blackstone which means we have a lot of inventory."

JLL's Winnard adds: "With the short and long let markets, it has become more confusing as to what sits where. Applicants are coming to us with demand for 4-5 month tenancies. Ultimately we are seeing a closing in of two markets that aren’t as polarised as they once were."

The duo added that while Airbnb have dominated the short stay space for a number of years, they are hoping to access a more specific area of the market as people hunt for corporate relocations where a  professional management of a portfolio of properties is required. 

"Logging on and booking via an app like the Airbnb experience is what people want," said Lerche-Lerchenborg. "It is the perfect moment in time for this as the real estate market is maturing and we can deliver this technology to create a platform people want.

"I'd say to anyone looking for this sort of flexibility 'don’t accept the residential market as it is. Ask for more, ask for better and demand flexibility'."

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” So said Leonardo da Vinci, a man who knew a few things about problem solving. As the application of technology and digital innovation to solve problems within the real estate sector continues to dominate strategies across the board, the power of simplicity comes into increasingly sharp focus.

Of the many efficiencies offered by real estate tech, using digital technologies to expedite long-standing processes remains one of the most business critical. And while the rationale behind this strategy is simple, actually implementing the right tools for the job remains a challenge.

Fitting then, that this should be the discussion point for our latest episode of Tech Talk Radio. EG Head of Content Emily Wright was joined by Teresa Lee, vice president of Roundhill Ventures, managing director of Search Acumen Andrew Lloyd and Marcus Moufarriage, founder and chief executive of Ility to talk about how even the simplest ideas need careful execution.

“It is pretty well known that the real estate sector is quite behind in tech adoption,” said Roundhill Ventures’ Teresa Lee. “That means a lot of the things we are seeing now are what we perceive to be quite simple. But that also means there are a lot of opportunities to move the needle quite quickly. So, it is a great thing the technology is here, even if it is a little behind other industries.”

Ility’s Marcus Moufarriage agreed adding: “I think it’s a good thing there is movement at all because there has certainly been a tendency for owners and the real estate sector more generally to say 2we took the risk, we built the building. Now we are getting 20% and we will just go to the Cotswolds and come back in 15 years when your lease is up and renew you. It used to be a very light touch and very low service. But that’s changing.”

Search Acumen’s Andrew Lloyd said: “There has been no real pressure on the industry to change until recently. If you look at any sector that has gone through modernisation or digitisation it always starts with the simple, time-consuming things first and then moves its way into more complex operations. But you have to do the simple stuff first.”

True. But that doesn’t mean it is any easier to tackle these problems in the first instance. Steve Jobs once famously said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

So, how can the real estate sector clean up it’s thinking?

The answer really comes down to necessity. The panel universally agreed that the pandemic has left real estate with no choice but to innovate and, by default, find that simpler state of mind and start to break down straight-forward problems. The biggest challenge will be separating out the tech companies with something to offer, and those cashing in on an industry now under intense pressure to change. Quickly.

Search Acumen’s Lloyd said: “There are lots of firms jumping into the space. There are many solutions to problems that don't exist out there.”

Ility’s Moufarriage agreed although added that the pressure is on the tech side fo the equation too, now more than ever. “It always amazes me that the smoke and mirrors gets as far as it gets,” he said. “I don’t think 2021 will be the year things unravel but I think next year it probably will for those who can’t actually deliver when real decisions are being made. Ongoing uncertainty means that decision-making process is a bit stalled right now so I think there is still room to wing it a bit. But if you are out there not really solving a problem and what you offer is not digital transformation but is just dressed up as that then the cracks will start to show.”

So those are some of the pitfalls. The panel also took some time to consider the signs of success. How does a real estate business measure how impactful their tech strategy has been? How do they know when they have played their cards right?

“Question number one, are we still in business?” This is how Search Acumens’ Lloyd would kick off the analysis. “Have we survived? Are we able to trade and continue to be successful in our market space? Are we winning market share over our competition? Is this tech working for us as an investment?”

Roundhill’s Lee added: “You need to set very specific goals for whatever technology you are trying to implement. So if you are implementing a new property management system, then you should know what you expect like decreasing the cost by 25%. The goal should be as tangible and specific as that. Treat it like any other project.”

In this 30-minute episode of the EG Property Podcast, EG editor Samantha McClary sits down with tech leader and investor and founder of SuperPitch, Joyeeta Das, and Ayesha Ofori, founder of PropElle, investor and Goldman Sachs alumna, to talk about investing, entrepreneurialism and diversity.

Women, particularly women of colour, are massively under-funded as founders, they are often disregarded, not because of their business plans – which as you’ll hear from Das in this conversation, are often more considered and considerate, but because they are female. Often it is not on purpose, often it is not conscious, but often it is the case.

But instead of just talking about the issue, Das and her crew of supporters are doing something about it.

SuperPitch is a global cross industry initiative to eliminate the biased access to capital for under-represented founders, particularly women. The founders have committed to driving investment of $5bn in under-represented founders by 2026 by partnering with investors, mentors, influencers and experts.

To find out more about SuperPitch listen in and visit www.superpitch.co.uk

In this episode of EG’s TechTalk radio, EG editor Samantha McClary is talking with Mike Gordon, the relatively newly installed chief executive of Altus Group.

The 31-minute discussion takes a look into the firm’s recent acquisition of Finance Active and how tech and data is enabling real estate to better manage debt.

Gordon also shares his aspirations for the company and his views on the spate of SPACS being launched with a focus on real estate tech and data-enabled businesses.

In this episode of EG's TechTalk Radio Samantha McClary is talking with Fifth Wall founder Brendan Wallace about the growth of the business from a single $200m fund to a $1.7bn business with more than 70 LPs around the globe.

In this hour-long interview the pair discuss the growth of proptech, the responsibility of the real estate sector to do more than just buy PV in the fight against climate change and how the sector is on the cusp of its biggest and most powerful transformation.

To read this interview make sure to pick up a copy of the 1 May EG Magazine or subscribe to Radius Data Exchange for online access to all of our news, data and EG Interviews.

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