The young company, which develops smart solutions in the field of environmental services, beat off stiff competition from 200 applicants in 46 countries. The prize was awarded by Union Investment and the German Tech Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC) on 17 May in a ceremony in Berlin. The goal of the competition is to support startups looking to shake up the real estate sector with innovative ideas. The competition attracted entrants from many different fields and countries, including digital property management, big real estate data, smart building and new investment platforms. (von Sara Seddon Kilbinger)
Green City Solutions scooped the €20,000 first prize after the eight finalists presented their ideas to an interdisciplinary jury in front of a live audience. The startup, which also won the community prize, develops solutions for Cleantech as well as sustainable urban planning for greener and more liveable cities, including its vertical, multi-award winning plant filter CityTree.
'Green City Solutions won due to the quality of their pitch and the belief that their idea - CityTree - could be a game changer,’ Jörn Stobbe, COO at Union Investment Real Estate, told REFIRE. ‘You could use it in a shopping centre or as a cooling solution. It was a brilliant pitch – it pushed all the emotional buttons. They did €6m in annual turnover last year but that is just the beginning.’
Architrave, also based in Berlin, was awarded the €10,000 second prize. It provides a digital real estate management solution through a centralized platform for all management and operational tasks concerning data, documents and processes.
‘We are offering the PropTech Innovation Award to identify potentially disrupting business models for the real estate industry,’ said Stobbe, who was also a jury member. ‘The applications and, ultimately the winners, showed us what exciting changes our industry is undergoing.’
In his keynote speech, Ragnar Lifthrasir, founder of the International Blockchain Real Estate Association, spoke about PropTech and its huge potential and about blockchain in the real estate business. Besides the live pitches and the award ceremony itself, a panel discussion illuminated the changes that old industries are undergoing because of digitisation. The take-home message was that digitisation will not adapt to the old industry but, rather, will revolutionise it.
On the panel were Jörn Stobbe from Union Investment, Christian Schulz-Wulkow, managing director of Ernst&Young Real Estate, Dr. Dirk Hecker, managing director of Fraunhofer Allianz Big Data and Professor Wolfgang Schäfers, Dean of the department of real estate management at the International Real Estate Business School. They were also members of the jury. The other jury members were Ron Hillmann, managing director of BVP Berlin Venture Partners, Jan Thomas, editor of the startup magazine Berlin Valley and Benjamin Rohé, managing director of GTEC.
The three winning teams will get total prize money of €35,000. In addition, they will be given a space at the GTEC Lab, which gives them free office space and access to the GTEC network of mentors and investors, as well as to the GTEC Partners, especially Union Investment. The PropTech Innovation Award will be offered again next year.
GTEC is the first private sector campus for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe and connects an international network of companies, universities, and startups with the public. Founded in Berlin in 2015, GTEC is supported by companies including Union Investment, Tishman Speyer, ESMT and Henkel.