If a building becomes architecture, then it is art
"There is a strong need for ecosystems"
Lars Sommerer, the new Managing Director and Representative of SwissPropTech, the Swiss Innovation Network for the construction and real estate industry, talks about the need for real events and digital ecosystems.
  • Lars Sommerer
    Managing Director | SwissPropTech
Lars, being the new head of SwissPropTech since the beginning of this year, what does that mean for you?
«The PropTech potential coupled with the ongoing need for digitization among the established small and large companies.»
Over the past few years, I have followed developments in this field with great interest and excitement. I still find it interesting how much innovative power Switzerland has here. You have to keep in mind: a country with just 8.6 million people and these days with more than 250 startups, and there will certainly be a few new ones this year. This PropTech potential coupled with the ongoing need for digitization among the established small and large companies in the industry is a great match and I want to continue to promote this with SwissPropTech, just as the innovation network of the real estate industry has already done successfully in recent years. That is an important goal, but there are also other important factors...
Such as?
For example PropTech funding on the one hand and PropTech communication and self-marketing on the other hand. In 2020, which will probably go down in history as the Corona year, there was a lot of uncertainty with the outbreak of the pandemic. As a result, many startups didn't know if they had enough capital for a possible lean period. Some venture capitalists withdrew their commitments overnight, putting PropTechs under pressure. Fortunately, we saw in the second half of last year that confidence is returning and that there is also a renewed desire to invest in PropTech solutions.
And what about the topics marketing and communication?
There is another important focus here. Many young companies think first and foremost about scaling their business models. Founders are intelligent innovators, but when it comes to marketing and communication, many are at a loss. For many, there is only a small budget for this either. But creating in silence without people in the industry noticing, this is not conducive to success. This is where we want to help with SwissPropTech and our partner network Swiss Circle and offer a stage so that PropTechs can present themselves, such as recently at our SwissPropTech MeetUp Session at IMMO'21 or later this year at the Swiss Real Estate Innovation Day event. In addition, we offer support to our members and partners through various marketing measures or with our new PropTech Database.
Will there be another SwissPropTech Day soon?
«SwissPropTech Day, our main annual event, will take place in the first half of this year.»
Yes, definitely. However, we have to adapt to the pandemic situation and accordingly it will be either a physical or digital event. This remains to be seen and we can also react at short notice. According to the current status, the SwissPropTech Day 2021 will take place in the first half of 2021 and we will invite our network members soon to participate and address the potential visitors from the industry in the coming days and weeks.
What other opportunities do you see for PropTech presentations and pitches?
We very much hope that the International Real Estate Fairs such as MIPIM in Cannes in France (June 8-11) and EXPO REAL in Munich in Germany (October 11-13) can be held this year (2021) physically and locally again. There, we will be present at the Swiss Circle booth in each case, offering Swiss PropTechs and members of our network the chance to make valuable international contacts. The PropTech business does not stop at national borders. It is important to look beyond: perhaps also for reasons of observing competitors, but above all for the idea of considering possible useful cooperations and collaborations.
Could you describe this in more detail?
«Digital island solutions will not create the next billion-dollar unicorn.»
In many places, Switzerland is seen as an special island in the middle of the European continent. But in many areas, this picture isn't correct. Especially in the PropTech segment. Digital island
solutions will not create the next billion-dollar unicorn. It has already become increasingly apparent in recent years that collaboration among PropTechs and platforms with several combined new ideas and innovations produce the best solutions. Just as the entire construction and real estate industry is an economic system in itself, our industry also needs a comprehensive digital real estate ecosystem. The upcoming years will show us how quickly this can be realized, and we want to follow these developments closely with SwissPropTech, both nationally and internationally.
That sounds difficult in Corona times....
We keep a close eye on what is happening in the PropTech industry and all sectors around it. We consistently point out these developments to our members and at our physical events and online MeetUps, where we are happy to provide tips and useful advice for everyday business. In addition, we are also increasingly showing success stories as well as important background information on the major future topics of the construction and real estate industry such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) or Environmental Social Governance (ESG) on the LinkedIn. Personally, I am looking forward to the coming months and years, because the construction and real estate industry is still at the beginning of a long digitization process that will probably take a whole generation and in which the industry players need support and guidance.
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