The real estate sector is huge and amongst the last to implement technological change and the innovation that comes with it. The opportunities therein are driven by the sheer size of the industry, its lack of technology adoption and embedded industry practices characterised by inefficient processes and needless transactional costs.
Property Technology, or “PropTech”, is a term that encompasses the application of information technology and platform economics to real estate markets. PropTech has proliferated over the last 35 years initially due to the development of mainframe and personal computers, tools such as Lotus and Excel, then more comprehensive software solutions for architecting, engineering and construction, and finally the Internet era and online marketplaces. Recent breakthroughs in technologies spanning cloud computing, machine learning, smartphones, and improved connectivity capabilities are spurring further activity in the PropTech space.
The European Space Agency’s “PropTech” Kick-Start offers support and funding to companies developing services exploiting satellite data and technologies to add value to relevant stakeholders operating in this space.
The PropTech Kick-Start is split into three parts:
|Theme||Opening Date||Closing Date|
|1||Shared Economy, Investment Management and Marketing||14 September 2020||30 October 2020|
|2||Insurance and Urban Planning||03 November 2020||18 January 2021|
|3||ConTech and Smart Buildings||19 January 2021||26 March 2021|
TOPICS OF RELEVANCE
The following topics were identified for the PropTech Kick-Start theme.
Shared Economy, Investment Management and Marketing.
The “shared economy” is an umbrella term that refers to the shared use of services, goods, property, spaces or capital. As pertaining to real estate, the shared economy could refer to the shared use of assets across all types of real estate such as land or buildings, including offices, shops, storage facilities, housing, parking space, building amenities and more.
The investment management component refers to the use of data to derive and distribute intelligence on the real estate market and properties therein. Such market intelligence can be used in real estate development activities by providing information to inform site selection decisions for new projects, by enabling ownership analysis for site assembly and ransom strips, assess environmental risks and site boundary constraints and otherwise inspect sites using maps, satellite imagery and other sources. Private and institutional investors benefit from trend analyses relating to the growth of urban settlements, development of new utilities and transport infrastructure, the health of agricultural land, and characteristics such as pollution levels (all impacting valuation).
In the future, virtual viewing can expect to become a hallmark in the marketing of real estate assets. Technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and drones wield the power to radically enhance customer experience when selecting, managing and interacting with a property. Virtual tours have the ability to reduce costs for real estate agents by negating the need for physical visits (or reserving future physical visits for truly interested viewers), and even provide them with a storytelling tool. Drones can be leveraged to take high quality, professional photographs and videos of real estate from otherwise inaccessible viewpoints and angles, and without investing excessive time and money in organising site visits and traditional photoshoots.
Insurance and Urban Planning
Insurers are concerned with the management of risk and uncertainty; the more high-quality data available regarding a certain asset to be insured implies more certainty in its behaviour, a more accurate risk assessment, and thus more competitive insurance products. Risks in real estate arise in all manner of scenarios; from weather events (such as floods and fires) to operation and maintenance of buildings, security vulnerabilities (physical and cyber) and those associated with the construction lifecycle. In addition, space-enabled PropTech solutions could support legal risk profiling and assessments of legal issues pertaining to land and property.
PropTech’s prominence in urban planning is integral to transforming current towns and cities into the towns and cities of the future. Urban planning of the future should accommodate conscientious design practices acknowledging pollution exposure, access to natural light and to infrastructure, sustainability and climate change…
ConTech (Construction Technology) and Smart Buildings
ConTech (“Construction Technology”) can be described as the technology used to innovate the way in which companies conceptualise, design, engineer and build structures, as well as manufacture and install their components. This comprises Building Information Modelling, modular construction, 3D/4D printing, the digitalisation of construction workflows and creation of digital twins.
Advances are being made in smart buildings particularly in three domains: security, eco-friendliness and building management. The digitalisation of buildings comes with increased cyber risk exposure and as such should be addressed alongside their physical counterpart through the use of smart indoor and outdoor security systems. The impact of indoor pollutants in the workplace has piqued the interest of forward-thinking companies keen to better care for their employees by preventing overexposure. Predictive maintenance is rendering reactive maintenance a thing of the past as the deployment of smart monitoring devices and analytics platforms allow for the pre-emptive identification, reporting and prediction of certain building-health parameters, prior to reaching critical levels.
VALUE OF SPACE
The role of space technologies in the aforementioned domain could include (but are not limited to) the following:
Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
- Enabling searches for local shared real estate assets based on the location of the user, particularly useful for assets whose usage is dynamic. Smartphone GNSS capabilities could allow users to check-in and out of certain locations (indicating the usage or vacating of an asset) to automate collection of usage metrics.
- Positioning information of users navigating augmented reality applications, and manage their interactions with geo-located objects therein. Also for envisioning future development projects in-situ during site selection.
- Routing and positioning information for construction machinery, and drones and robotics deployed to carry out on-site inspections and complete more comprehensive building tasks, respectively.
- Measuring of surface displacements and structural integrity of real estate assets.
- Triggering certain smart building/home processes based on the presence, distribution and arrival of people (such as temperature regulation).
Satellite Earth Observation
- Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map land and properties in the broader environment, and allow oversight of disparate property portfolios.
- Identifying and quantifying flood, fire, land subsidence and geomagnetic storm risks.
- Monitoring macroscopic construction activity, the development of new infrastructure and urban settlements, and identify suitable locations for the development of new real estate projects.
- Tracking detailed construction activities for improved project management and accountability.
- Delineating specific features of individual properties, including characteristics such as size, proximity to certain resources and amenities, and facilities, such as swimming pools and gardens.
- Gauging pollution levels, to indicate anthropogenic activity, the exposure risk inside buildings in the region, and for urban planning. Site selection and mapping for new construction activities, be it for commercial purposes, residential, or emergency shelters deployed in disaster sites.
- Visualising the historical development of a real estate asset, and detect structural changes to properties over time, boundary movements and infrastructure development.
- Monitoring the surroundings of sites and properties for enhanced security, and amalgamation of data with in-situ sensors and CCTV.
- Creation of 3D city, landscape and Digital Elevation Models.
- Providing connectivity for the transmission of data from remote construction sites and smart buildings to ease management processes such as task management, health monitoring, progress tracking and so on.
- Enabling the retrieval of data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices deployed in the field to help formulate a digital twin of the site and/or data on the activities or wellbeing of workers. Such data could be factored into risk models and subsequently improve insurance premiums for stakeholders.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR
Kick-Start activities explore the business opportunity and the technical viability of new applications and services that exploit one or more space assets (e.g. Satellite Communications, Satellite Navigation, Earth Observation, Human Space Flight Technology). This call for Kick-Start activities is dedicated to the theme ‘PropTech’, which means that the call is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services relating to the aforementioned themes in this domain.
HOW TO APPLY
- Register by completing the online questionnaire on ESA-STAR Registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’)
- Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).
- Submit your proposal via ESA-STAR Tendering by the deadline.
AUTHORISATION OF FUNDING
ESA Space Solutions can provide funding to perform Kick-Start activities to any company (economic operator) residing in the following Member States: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Please note that, currently, Austria, Greece and Switzerland are not supporting Kick-Start activities.
Applicants must inform the National Delegation of the country they are residing in to obtain a letter of authorisation allowing the funding of the proposed activity. Contact details of each national delegate can be found here.
Currently, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Norway have pre-approved funding for this Kick-Start activity. The United Kingdom has pre-approved funding for the third sub-theme of this Kick-Start activity. Applicants from these countries do not need to obtain a letter of authorisation from their National Delegation.
Kick-Start activities are funded at:
- 80% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €64K per contract for SMEs*
- 75% by the European Space Agency for a maximum of €60K per contract for non-SMEs
- For sub-theme 3: a maximum of 75% is offered regardless of SME status.
*SMEs, or ‘Small and Medium enterprises’, are defined here: EU recommendation 2003/361.
Webinars are scheduled for the following dates:
- Shared Economy, Investment Management and Marketing: 07 September 2020, 16:00 CEST
- Insurance and Urban Planning: 16 December 2020, 15:00 CET
- ConTech and Smart Buildings: 27 January 2021, 11:00 CET