ULI Europe launches PropTech Innovation Challenge 2024

Following last year’s pilot, Urban Land Institute (ULI) Europe has launched a second edition of the PropTech Innovation Challenge (PIC), the Young Leaders-led initiative to foster innovation in the built environment and is calling for game changing solutions that meet the challenge of how to substantially reduce carbon emissions.  The challenge, which reflects ULI’s mission priorities, and the urgent decarbonisation focus of ULI C Change, is focused specifically on the reduction of Scope 3 emissions for managers and investors and encompasses the indirect but critical emissions that occur throughout the value chain, and which are often overlooked. Indirect emissions arise from activities such as transportation and procurement.

Solutions submitted into PIC must reflect a genuine shift away from business-as-usual practices and be tangible and scalable in a regional context. Innovations may be high or low tech and include hardware, software, or business models. Finally, they must tackle at least one of the use cases proposed by the ULI community, which currently include retrofitting at scale, operational circularity, gamification to strengthen stakeholder collaboration, ESG platforms integration, and sustainable materials.

Lisette van Doorn, CEO, ULI Europe comments, “Real estate is responsible for a massive 37 percent of global carbon emissions, and it is paramount that the industry urgently unites in response to this significant challenge, coordinating and collaborating to pursue best practical solutions. Technology and innovation are both key to addressing these critical challenges, and we believe that PIC is an important initiative to build stronger connections between traditional real estate and proptech and encourage more industry wide innovation.”

The pan European competition is aimed at innovators from across the build environment and the world of technology. Submissions are welcome from innovators in academia or research, for-profit and not-for-profit organisations operating in European markets including Germany, Switzerland, France, the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Iberia (Portugal, Spain), CEE (Poland & Czech Republic), and the UK and Ireland. Submissions are open to ULI members and non-members, and entrants must submit a general application and a supporting pitch deck.

The PIC leads are Thibault Weston-Smith, co-founder, Crayon Partners; Susse Schaumann, investment analyst, NREP; and Simon Abboud, programme director, Hines Europe. Thibault Weston Smith comments, “As we embark on the second edition of the PropTech Innovation Challenge, we’re energised by the opportunity to catalyse transformative solutions that address the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. Innovation takes myriad shapes — from products and technologies to strategies and societal shifts. Our aim with ULI PIC is to spotlight forward-thinkers and disruptors and connect them with industry players and stakeholders.”

The competition is structured in two phases. Entrants will initially compete across seven in-country/region competitions, in Germany, Nordics, Iberia, France, Poland, Switzerland, and the UK and Ireland. In each market, applications will be reviewed and shortlisted finalists will then be invited to present to their national ULI PIC Jury Committee, where a product’s potential impact, innovation, and likelihood of adoption will be considered. Winners will be announced to ULI’s network and the media. The entry deadline for each in-country phase varies.

All PIC winners will then be eligible to enter the subsequent pan-European phase of the competition, which will comprise a public vote on all the national winners, followed by a grand European Final in October and subsequent winner announcement at the C Change Summit.  In addition to unrivalled industry exposure through the ULI international network and communications channels, all finalists will benefit from a one-year ULI membership including full access to the Knowledge Finder research platform, and opportunities to join the ULI National and European Product Council events.

Susse Schaumann adds, “PIC presents a unique opportunity to inspire industry leaders with your innovative ideas, but also to be inspired by fellow innovators who are equally passionate about improving the built environment.”

The inaugural competition in 2023 attracted more than 100 applications and involved eight ULI Europe National Councils, 13 National PIC Champions, 60 plus expert jurors, and seven competition finals. EFFIC, a specialist in residential refurbishment to improve energy efficiency in Spain, was announced as the 2023 overall winner, with France’s Roofscapes, which creates accessible rooftop green spaces, awarded a special mention in recognition of its potential impact.

Simon Abboud said, “Last year’s successful PIC pilot is a testament to our industry’s trust in ULI as an educational channel to learn about the latest national and regional Innovations. This is a fundamental validation in getting our community of practitioners motivated to develop the entrepreneurial muscle and mindset we urgently need to challenge business-as-usual.”

For more information and how to apply, please visit: https://europe.uli.org/young-leaders-proptech-innovation-challenge-pic/