C&W, Spire Ventures Partner with Property-Focused Tech Accelerator in London
- Oct 07, 2014
Cushman & Wakefield has joined forces with Spire Ventures on a new strategic partnership with London-based Pi Labs, the very first property-focused technology accelerator company in Europe.
Timing is everything and, according to the parties involved, the timing of the alliance involving Pi Labs, formally known as Property Innovation Labs, is great.
“There’s so much interest in prop tech right now and a healthy funding environment and talent pool in London,” Juliette Morgan, head of tech at C&W London, told Commercial Property Executive.
The newly announced teaming of C&W and Spire is an endeavor that got its start where so many good ideas germinate: a party. Executives of C&W and Spire, London’s most active property-focused venture capital group, were introduced at a fête and the rest, as they say, is history.
“A follow up meeting identified corporate kindred spirits keen to co-create the future of the property industry and it was clear that to innovate tech into property it needed a big industry player to cornerstone the initiative,” Morgan said.
C&W, the “big industry player” in the scenario, embraced the idea, resulting in Spire’s creation of Pi Labs and the ensuing strategic partnership.
The Pi Labs accelerator program will provide startups focusing on property and technology innovations with support in the form of access to investment and, through C&W and Spire, mentoring and advice. The goals of the prop-tech startups can take many forms, such as revolutionizing the software end of the market as have such companies as AirBnb and Zoopla, or innovating the property design process via new hardware or software. A startup may be interested in creating building sensors for energy efficiency or space usage monitoring, or developing a new real estate product such as micro-housing or new retail/work/hospitality environments. The parameters are broad.
“If it’s innovating the property industry, then talk to us,” Morgan added.
In addition to investment leads and the all-important counseling, Pi Labs will supply the accepted startups with business space–four desks per startup, initially. Pi Labs is setting up shop at Second Home, a 20,000-square-foot redeveloped warehouse that is nearing completion on Hanbury St. C&W has no involvement in the office space arrangements, but should any of the companies take off and require large space accommodations, the commercial real estate services firm would make itself available to advise.
As for replicating the Pi Labs model for prop-tech startups elsewhere, the possibilities are endless. “We will review the success of this and apply any learning that’s appropriate to each market,” Morgan concluded. “Watch this space!”