20 May 2020

PropTech Innovation Summit: creating momentum for digital ecosystems

• Flexibility and standardisation are the biggest challenges
• Union Investment Real Estate Digital GmbH established
• Overview of the PropTech Innovation Award winners


On 19 May, around 600 participants logged in to the first-ever digital edition of the PropTech Innovation Summit organised by Union Investment and GERMANTECH. Under the slogan “Building perspectives in challenging times”, they discussed the current challenges facing the real estate and start-up sectors across six think tank sessions. The participants also worked together to find answers and identify innovation potential.

Jens Wilhelm

“I believe that digital approaches will at least complement established business models, if not replace them. That’s inevitable.”

Jens Wilhelm, a member of the Management Board at Union Asset Management Holding AG

COVID-19 is turbo-charging this trend. When asked what impact they thought the coronavirus pandemic would have on digital transformation in the real estate industry, just under half (47 per cent) of the participants surveyed at the PropTech Innovation Summit said they believed it would accelerate digitisation of internal approval processes. Furthermore, 43 per cent of respondents also expect that a) the development of data-based decision systems will be speeded up, and b) greater use will be made of applications to improve transparency and data consistency in future (multiple answers were possible).

The main takeaway from the event is that flexibility and standardisation pose the biggest challenges for the real estate sector across all areas, from issues such as sustainability through to asset classes like residential, retail and offices. “The coronavirus pandemic will change how and where we live, shop and work. But this crisis could be turned into a major opportunity if the real estate industry becomes more flexible and open to collaboration with proptechs,” said Benjamin Rohé, founder of GERMANTECH.

Digital ecosystems are still a rarity in the real estate industry. Union Investment is one of the first market players to enter this territory. In April 2020, Union Investment Real Estate Digital GmbH was established specifically for this purpose. “As a major holder of office properties, the main focus will be on ensuring more efficient and intelligent use of offices,” explained Jens Wilhelm. He continued: “Our aim is to create a service platform that benefits everyone, whether they are tenants, property managers or external service providers.” With 400 office properties in its portfolios, 9,000 tenants and 125,000 users, Union Investment is extremely well placed to do this. Wilhelm said: “Obviously we can’t implement this completely on our own, nor do we want to. We need to think beyond the real estate industry and are happy to consider new partnerships.”

The winners of the PropTech Innovation Award 2020

This year, 150 applicants from 29 countries entered the international PropTech Innovation Award, with 18 finalists from Germany, Switzerland, Israel, the UK, Finland and Slovenia being selected by the jury. No pitches were delivered this year. The total prize money of EUR 40,000 was divided equally among the finalists. The three best solutions were chosen in each of six categories: Smart and Sustainable Buildings, Efficient Decision Making, Smart Living, Smart Retail, Future Office, and Connected Hospitality.

Smart and Sustainable Buildings

• Ecoworks (D)
• Park Here (D)
• Caala (D)

Efficient Decision Making

• Blocksquare (SI)
• Rentivate (D)
• Tower 360 (D)



Smart Living

• Ask Porter (GB)
• Comydo (D)
• Room Estate (CH)

Smart Retail

• _blaenk (D)
• Placense (IL)
• Proximi.io (FI)

Future Office

• Thing Technologies (D)
• Two Stay (D)

Connected Hospitality

• Apaleo (D)
• Inolares (D)
• Limehome (D)

The international PropTech Innovation Award was being held by Union Investment and GERMANTECH for the fourth time. Last year, AI proptech Dabbel Automation Intelligence of Germany beat 150 applicants from 48 countries to win the award. The prize winners since 2017 include innovators such as Bao Living, Voxelgrid, Physee, Spaceti, HiP Interactive, Green City Solutions and Architrave, many of which have successfully established themselves and are now working with well-known companies in the real estate sector.

Media contact

For Union Investment Real Estate GmbH

Astrid Lipsky

Managerin Marketing, Communication

+ 49 40 34919 4923