Technological innovation is likely to be key to the adaptation of the built environment for a net-zero-carbon future. Venture capital company PT1 Ventures – or Proptech1 Ventures – is investing in European start-ups addressing the sector’s challenges.
The company, which was started in Berlin in 2018 and opened a UK office three years ago, focuses on four areas where new technologies might deliver most potential: real estate, construction, energy and infrastructure.
“Over the course of four or five years we’ve made 21 investments into different start-ups,” said Kingma Ma, MD UK, Proptech1 Ventures.
“Many of them have obviously grown substantially since we first invested and that’s very much our business, to identify where the best business opportunities are in the built environment as well as identify the best founders who are building innovative solutions in this area.”
Ma said that most are developing technological products which will ultimately deliver service or a product to real estate or construction companies. “That’s where our investor base is as well,” he said.
There are a number of themes that the company has identified. The first is solutions that aid the green energy transition in real estate such as wind or solar energy and other renewable energy that makes is less reliant on fossil fuels.
“We’re looking at infrastructure projects or technical solutions that can be implemented in infrastructure in order to speed up the productivity of building these assets and speed up the connection between these assets and the electrical grid in various countries,” Ma said.
Sustainable building materials are another area of focus. “The largest carbon cost of real estate is in the embodied carbon and we are therefore looking at materials that can reduce that.”
Concrete aggregates and geopolymers that can replace conventional building materials are really interesting examples, he explained.
Building automation using artificial intelligence or robotics that delivers efficiencies and improved productivity in construction is another target area.
“Whereas construction projects can be very large and complicated, engineering problems can often be boiled down to a very defined problem and therefore solution or outcome. So this is where machines might have greater advantages than humans.”
“Technologies that can create productivity improvements when it comes to new development and retrofitting, they’re really exciting.”
PT1’s fourth focus is improving climate resilience.
“We know climate change is happening, unfortunately. The effects of climate change mean that it’s going to disrupt the way that we live, the way that we work in certain parts of the world.”
“How we make the buildings and communities in those areas most severely disrupted by climate change more resilient…that’s a really key investment theme for us.”
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