London’s entrepreneurial spirit and nurturing of innovation has turned the city into the prop-tech capital of Europe. The main reason for this is that it is home to a global property industry, coupled with a first-class technology cluster. Put these two together and there is the expertise and wherewithal in one place to make things happen, such as in Tech City, in east London.
Tech City UK was launched in Shoreditch in 2010 with the belief that the UK is the best place to start or develop a digital business, including in the property sector. Prop-tech entrepreneurs in London are working on a range of services from technology to make buildings more energy efficient, which is of particular interest to landlords, to software to cut waste in the construction industry. Recent innovations include Appear Here, which uses technology to simplify the process for someone creating a pop-up shop in unused buildings such as empty shops, and House Simple, which makes it easier to sell homes without an estate agent.
Another reason for London’s prop-tech boom is that property companies are also keen to get behind innovation. Top real-estate companies, such as Cushman & Wakefield, are investing in prop-tech companies and even buying start-ups, to bring in fresh ways of working and stay ahead of the competition.
Also, venture capitalist firm Pi Labs has formed a partnership with CBRE to nurture and mentor future property-focused start-ups. The partnership is being viewed as a way for the global real estate services company to use its expertise with new companies and to identify emerging technologies to benefit clients and the property sector. Since its launch two years ago, Pi Labs has supported 16 prop-tech start-ups in areas as diverse as planning, social housing and office management.
Many of these prop-tech companies will be using software and automation to make it easier to conduct business within the property sector. This could be to show customers the best mortgage deals available, such as Trussle does, or making real estate investment accessible to more people, as Property Partner and Bricklane are doing.
Software is also readily available for landlords and letting agents to automate or simplify their back office administration. Apps can be downloaded for tenant contracts, check-ins and check-outs, property reports and all other correspondence between a tenant and landlord, including photographs to show the state of a property, which can be used as evidence if there is a disagreement between the two parties or pending court hearings.
It’s an exciting time to be in PropTech and with MIPIM UK kicking off this week in London we’ll see teams compete in a hackathon to come up with the latest prop-tech idea – I look forward to seeing what they come up with!
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