Brookfield investing heavily in proptech for its commercial real estate business
Proptech is a hot buzzword in the world of commercial real estate. The portmanteau refers to bringing new technologies, largely dependent on wireless connectivity, to bear on commercial properties. Perhaps the best known company in this category is OpenDoor, which shifts the paradigm for home sales–the company uses an algorithmic approach to purchase homes for cash, which it then sells to prospective buyers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Settled, Nested, PurpleBricks, GoodLords, the list goes on. The point is this is a hot space that major real estate companies like Brookfield Asset Management, which controls some 261 office properties topping 131 million square feet in major metros in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India and South Korea, are interested in.
Specifically, Brookfield subsidiary Brookfield Ventures recently invested $15 million in BuildingConnected, provider of pre-construction solutions designed to facilitate better communications between project owners, general contractors and subcontractors.
Brookfield Managing Partner Stewart Upson told the Wall Street Journal, “We’re going to get access to deals that others wouldn’t get access to, and we’re going to be able to add value to things that others won’t be able to add value to.”
And the hits keep on coming for proptech. Unibail Rodamco, which acquired Westfield for $16 billion, is spinning off the former Westfield Labs proptech division into a standalone, public company called OneMarket, which is valued at more than $300 million, according to Bisnow.
OneMarket bills itself as “reshaping the way the world shops through the world’s first retail technology network,” bringing together “retailers, brands, venues and partners to facilitate collaboration on data insights and implement new technologies like natural language processing, AI and AR at scale.”
Natural language processing, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, particularly in a mobile use case, are all heavily dependent on access to reliable, high-quality in-building wireless connectivity. So while OneMarket works on reshaping the retail experience, building owners need to get ahead of the curve when it comes to investment in connectivity infrastructure.