How We Brought PropTech to the Top of the Agenda For the European Real Estate Sector

40 Percent Symposium 2018 Post-Event Blog Post

Q: What happens when you put 80 professionals from real estate, sustainability, and property technology (PropTech) organisations in the same room?

A: Lively debate ensues, everyone feels inspired, and they all have a great time sharing ideas, knowledge, and best practices. Oh, and we make an instant decision to host the event again next year. (Thursday 9th May 2019, to be exact!)


On Thursday 12th April 2018, the 40 Percent Symposium returned to Berlin after an 18-month hiatus. For the first time in the Symposium’s seven-year history, the focus this year was not on sustainability, but on property technology – PropTech.

This year, John Pike, Founder of the 40 Percent Symposium, and Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, Managing Director of ES EnviroSustain, Germany’s leading commercial real estate sustainability consultancy and the Symposium’s Platinum Sponsor, made the decision to move away from sustainability to keep the conversation fresh and focus instead on the emergence of the multitude of European PropTech companies over the last few years.

“I started the 40 Percent Symposium seven years ago, and things have moved on quite dramatically. My view now is that to be sustainable, you need to have modern technology in buildings and you need to behave in a technologically enabled way, and therefore the two come together rather neatly.” – John Pike



Hosting the event in Berlin again was a great decision, not only because it allowed delegates from some of Europe’s largest real estate companies to attend, but also because Germany is a real hub for disruptive technologies. It certainly felt like we were on the frontline of an exciting new movement, in which PropTech, sustainable practices, and circular economy principles are combining for the betterment of not only commercial real estate, but for society as a whole.

Long-time Symposium sponsor and organiser, ES EnviroSustain were at the helm again this year. As Germany’s first dedicated commercial real estate sustainability consultancy, ES has a an unparalleled level of expertise in the provision of cutting-edge sustainability services to real estate firms. Speaking about this year’s event, ES Founder and Managing Director, Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve, had the following to say:

“The Symposium this year is not only about energy efficiency. It’s also about new technologies, renewable energy, and it’s about working together. So how can we integrate all these new PropTech technologies into the commercial real estate business?” – Dr. Birgit Memminger-Rieve



Why real estate? Why PropTech?

For those who are new to the sector, or to the Symposium, it’s worth a reminder that the Symposium is so called because buildings are responsible for approximately 40 percent of global CO2 emissions. It’s a staggering statistic, but one which instantly makes us realise how vital it is that we act now to make new buildings as energy efficient as possible, and also retrofit our existing stock – arguably a much bigger feat.

And that’s exactly where PropTech and our industry disruptors come into play…

In another Symposium first, the afternoon session saw a lively series of roundtable discussions, in which our special guest Disruptors had three minutes to pitch their business to a group of Symposium delegates. The delegates then had a few minutes to discuss the technology and ask the Disruptor any questions, before our big comedy bell rang and everyone moved around to the next table. (I think it’s safe to say we may have invented PropTech speed dating!)

Our Disruptors on the day were:

  • Loop
  • Vanti
  • LightFi
  • SmartB
  • eLearning Studios
  • Botanic Horizon
  • EVANA

Learn more about them all here.

The work these companies are doing is inspiring, and we look forward to following their journeys in the coming months and years. It was great to hear from some of them that they already plan on attending next year’s Symposium.


Can we achieve net zero carbon by 2050?

That’s what every building in the world must attain if we’re going to stand any chance of the effects of global warming being limited to below 2 degrees Celsius, according to a report issued by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) in 2017.

And you know what? If I hadn’t been to the Symposium this year, I would have found it very difficult to not be pessimistic about achieving that goal. But we have 32 years to go until 2050, and what’s happening now is incredible. Yes, we need speed and we need scale, but we also need organisations to lead the way. Well, I really think we saw some of those at this year’s Symposium.

By the end of the day, I was certainly feeling more optimistic and inspired by our chances. More innovative PropTech will undoubtedly help us. And, as Birgit said earlier, a large factor in our success will be working together. Collaboration is key.



Wrapping up (with a video!)

After such an excellent day-long event (not including the fantastic Speakers & Sponsors Dinner the night before), there’s so much more that could be said. But, in yet another Symposium first, the event was filmed this year, which means you can stop reading and start watching! If you’ve got 5 minutes – there’s a full-length trailer with delegate and speaker interviews. If you’ve only got one minute, scroll to the bottom for the Teaser.

All that’s left to say for now is a huge thank you to all of our speakers, sponsors, partners, disruptors, and delegates for making it such a fantastic event. And the most important point of all…

The Symposium will return to Berlin next year, on Thursday 9th May 2019, once again taking place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the heart of Berlin. See you there!


Full-Length Trailer


Teaser