Proptech: just another buzzword? Rather a necessary step for our society, which needs to innovate in order to adapt to upcoming demographic and ecologic pressure, and the evolution of our lifestyle.
By 2050 75% of the world population will be urban. In 1800 that figure was only 3%. How can we house billions of new urban settlers without slowing economic development, penalising the poor and damaging the environment
Are we going to end up in Luc Besson’s NYC of 23rd century ?
The best is yet to come
When compared to other sectors such as the insurance, distribution or car industries, the property market has remained relatively undisrupted. The first disruptive wave consisted in disintermediating the selling and renting processes through marketplaces such as Leboncoin or Se Loger, with entry barriers limited to a first-mover advantage. A kind of “disruption 1.5” comparable to other industries.
And now comes the property market 2.0, with start-ups using technology to develop an efficient, accessible and environmentally friendly property market that will be experienced by future generations with, at times, deep shifts in paradigm. In the mapping presented, we’ve identified 200 tech start-ups — in France alone — that are revolutionizing the whole value chain: from design to new uses and affordable housing.
Here are the main emerging trends:
Build “more and better” — new materials, new modelling standards, new social considerations
- Building materials: it’s the most consistent field for innovation. Insulating material, light and ultra resistant honeycomb structures, and wooden-frame houses are signs of the endless opportunities for innovation in material.
GLOWEE uses bioluminescence from marine organisms to produce light. HP2A manufactures the first reusable industrial binder “without cement nor calcination” and aims to replace Portland cement, for which the carbon footprint is up to 10x greater.
But energy efficiency isn’t the only concern anymore: millennials’ state of mind has invaded the property sector with concerns about use rather than ownership: low-energy house projects are flourishing, such as LEKO and POPUP HOUSE. As opposed to suburban housing, they are in keeping with the times, favouring accelerated construction methods, adapted to a modern lifestyle, rather than durability for the sake of it.
Social considerations represent a third driving force with access to the most modest households, as they are the ones who need to save on their energy costs. That’s why CHENELET produces passive social housing, and the cellulose wadding industry is developing an insulating material as efficient as glass wool at a smaller price and carbon footprint.
- Management and securing of construction sites: once managed on the phone, with Excel and a pen and paper, construction sites are now planned with specialised ERP softwares such as BULLDOZAIR or FIELDWIRE, improving the prime contractor’s overview and providing a direct interface with clients and suppliers through geofencing and augmented reality. ARCURE or CAD 42 AI-based technologies also help secure construction sites by detecting people in real time.
- Building Information Modelling: BIM has established itself as the international standard for 3D modelling of any building element. Pipes, water heater, terrace slab… each component of a building is listed, which allows the architect to build a 3D model of the building in accordance with the constraints of the future building. It also allows the building’s operators to analyse unexpected issues, and the administration to use the semantic wealth of this information to analyse and decide on possible restrictions, limits and responsibility. Because of this POLANTIS was able to build one of the largest libraries for materials and BIM objects fully usable by architects.
Access and uses based on connected objects and the shared economy
- Property searching using virtual reality (HABITEO) and furniture visualising through augmented reality (INNERSENSE) make the act of purchase easier. Property and property searching are now supported by data mining and APIs that help produce real automated market analyses (LA PLACE DE L’IMMOBILIER). “Well-being in the neighbourhood” is assessed by start-ups such as APIMKA, HAPPYRENTING or BONDEVISITE, which take into account qualitative criteria by gathering reviews and pieces of advice from inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
- Acquisition financing is luring crowd-funders to property investments — small shareholders can now participate, within their means, to a larger operation, meaning it is potentially less risky and more profitable: for instance WISEED and LYMO aim for an annual yield of 10%. Crowdfunding is also encouraging home ownership, like in the case of DEVENEZ PROPRIO. For those who need to get rid of their current dwelling first, HOMELOOP uses big data to offer you a fair price and buy you out in 48 hours before reselling it in the next weeks or months with a positive return.
- Use: Property management is expanding to the shared economy, beyond home services and peer-to-peer self-storage. It draws not only from AIRBNB, with more vertical concepts (LE COLLECTIONIST), but also from services relating to peer-to-peer renting such as BNBSITTER, HOSTNFLY, and SYNDICIO’s property management company managed by landlords.
Participatory/Community housing: as opposed to co-design, participatory housing establishes a close relationship between the inhabitants of a same building, each contributing to maintaining, developing and bringing life to common areas, with a strong social dimension: vegetable garden, gym, child care, intergenerational solidarity. AKIRIMO is currently working on this type of initiatives.
Shared housing: ARKHENSPACES has developed the concept of “Endless Home” to fight against the decrease of living spaces in the context of urban pressure by making homes “elastic”. Much like a co-working space, it restricts home to basic spaces and mutualises occasionally used areas (large kitchen, terrace, spare room) through a digital tool.
Solidarity between inhabitants: platforms such as SMIILE help recreate a bond between neighbours, by offering a drill, a favour or to go jogging.
- Urban planning and collaborative housing: the expansion of cities is making “urban planning” more and more complex for local authorities, which can only anticipate the flows and growth areas from statistical studies often based on older data. HABX helps promoters identify buyers even before the building is designed. This allows to optimise demand, to make the property more affordable, and to establish an offer in line with inhabitants’ needs, most notably by using the BIM. Local authorities will be able to proactively implement infrastructures adapted to future inhabitants.
- Smart building: the numerous 3D sensors, lasers and probes provide information on the exact state of the building at any given time, helping to detect potential anomalies or intrusions, monitor electrical consumption (INTENT) and detect leaks (HYDRELIS). In order to centralise these sensors management, SMARTLY.AI provides a solution allowing to add intelligence to voice assistants such as ALEXA or HAYO, and even to create virtual switches on any surface to turn on the light, the television or any other electronic device.
Peer-to-peer also pushes for more energy-efficient buildings in order to produce off-grid, in a decentralised manner: QARNOT offers to use the heat loss from data centres by moving them in housing buildings to replace radiators, and STIMERGY uses them as water heaters. ELUM is developing a solution to orchestrate various energy sources to optimise cost and storage in real time, for instance depending on available solar resources. This application is particularly useful in areas not serviced by conventional electric networks (off-grid).
Energy efficiency can also have a social impact: ECOSYSTEMIC analyses weak signals of dependency of the elderly by monitoring water and electricity consumption, and DIYA ONE uses a robot that analyses and purifies ambient air by automatically moving from one room to another.
Decentralised energies, peer-to-peer services, home and review sharing contribute to opening our home to the city and the outside world. The inhabitant’s private sphere is progressively shifting to an approach based on sharing, use and mutualisation in view of a growing urbanisation.
Proptechs therefore represent a long-term trend as they will need to orchestrate the adaptation of our housing arrangement to major changes, migration flows, demography and climate change.
To take the full measure of urban acceleration in 1:30, this video by Max Galka shows the birth of large cities since the cradle of mankind… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCusYk7-Rg8
But this mapping isn’t comprehensive, so don’t hesitate to share your remarks, anything we may have forgotten, or your enthusiasm in the comments section… In any case, get in touch with us HERE!!