Growing ESG focus highlights need for entrepreneurship

The relentless rounds of new ESG reporting standards and regulations are creating a momentum for doing things differently in the real estate industry, according to Sander Verseput, co-founder of proptech company Chainels.

Sander Verseput.

“Some real estate organisations are hiring people for new roles such as chief digital transformation or chief innovation officer. That’s a good starting point to get introduced to the right people internally. In the past you would talk first to the asset manager, but sometimes they don’t have all the mandates they need for the final decision making.”

While entrepreneurship is vital in terms of skill sets needed to drive the real estate industry forward, it is often thwarted, he added. “As an entrepreneur, you look for compelling reasons to drive innovation. But decision-making processes in this sector are quite slow, and the entry barriers are quite high. We were quite lucky when we were developing Chainels: the Netherlands offers business incubators and innovation grants which meant that initially we didn’t have to be financially efficient. That allowed us to continue working on our project for several years. In some other countries, the entry barriers are even higher which makes things much more challenging.”

Hiring ESG experts will help drive the industry forward and make it more sustainable, but landlords also need to collaborate more, Verseput said. “Landlords need to involve their tenants in ESG processes so they can create more impact on the bottom line.”