On the 6-8th June, Innovation is Everywhere attended the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit 2017 in Singapore. The Summit brought together institutional investors, developers, planners, architects and city leaders to share ideas and exchange best practices, allowing us to have the opportunity to learn about the latest global real estate trends and connect with industry leaders.

Urban Land Institute professionals

Many urban planners and professionals have begun to realize the upcoming wave urban innovations as many cities gear up towards the realization of the smart city. Not only in developing new technologies, but breakthroughs also come from the change of mindset among the key players that the built environment is not rigid anymore – there are many different ways that one could utilize and improve the traditional urban use.

Of the areas explored during the summit, we have identified a few key fast-evolving areas which include the future of working spaces, the evolution of urban mobility and innovations on real estate alternative asset.

The future of workplace and occupancy

As also published on Colliers International Paper (July), technology enhances the world of flexibility and innovation. The five primary shifts Colliers International has identified include:

  • Making employee experience a core part of business strategy
    • Drive engagement and productivity by creating real ownership of the employee experience and bringing the service-oriented mindset into the workplace.
  • Building the “Internet of Workplace”
    • Translate technology-fueled insights to the personal level in the workplace, be it the ability to adjust workplace amenities to the individual needs, or a feedback system on underutilized facilities to make the workplace reactive, proactive and ahead in the automation impact.
  • Making technology a wellness-enabler for employees
    • A healthy workplace and workforce lead to healthier revenue numbers, based on less sick days, higher energy and greater consistency among employees which also translates to increased work productivity. Utilize technology as a wellness enabler and take designing for wellness to the next level.
  • Ingraining coworking mentality in real estate strategy
    • Coworking spaces optimally utilize costly premises, with its flexible arrangements, allowing multipurposeness of working space. Many huge businesses such as Heineken, IBM and Red Bull have also make a practice of working from shared office spaces on a regular basis to meet new people and think creatively in a different environment
  • Enabling an agile organization
    • The workplace of the future should allow workers to work where they feel most comfortable and hence able to achieve maximal results.

Coworking Space

Workplace strategy should no longer be just about maintaining facilities and trimming expenses, but also creating workplaces that attract the best talent, adjusting to shifting workforce demographics and promoting employee well-being.

Many coworking spaces engage in practices to satisfy the needs mentioned above while maintaining their core identity.

the future of coworkingthe future of workplace

Among the coworking spaces mentioned were naked Hub which focuses on their strength on hospitality and services, WeWork which is by far the leader in this surging co-working space movement, or the Impact Hub which places great emphasis on their community values.

The evolution of Urban Mobility

Countries, especially in Asia-Pacific, are rapidly becoming denser. Concerning population density, development level, and cultural diversity, issues of congestion, pollution, and stress become more apparent than before. There is a need to formulate strategic plan and mobility projects, especially on physical, social and environmental changes.

In this topic of urban mobility, different municipalities tend to undertake different approaches. Some cities have indeed developed innovations to cater to pedestrian-centric models such as Placemeter which can analyze pedestrian traffic through videos, while others were planned to be car-centric, especially with the support of car-sharing providers such as Uber and Grab.

the future of urban mobility

It is to note that urban innovations do not only come from private enterprises but also the government. Singapore, for example, has launched the Smart Nation Programme to promote innovation. A few examples would be the chatbot @SGbusuncle which incorporates AI with LTA DataMall database to predict bus arrival timing and SGBeeline, an open, cloud-based smart mobility platform to provide data-driven shuttle bus services.

Smart-Nation-Beeline-2-r bus_uncle

Alternative Real Estate asset class

The emergence of Alternative Real Estate Asset class has triggered various innovations outside the domain of traditional commercial real estate. This includes self-storage facilities, retirement living or student accommodations, micro-units and coworking spaces.

  • Self storage

Self-storage facilities are getting increasingly popular, more so in robust cities where real estate prices are going up, and houses are getting smaller. Startups like MakeSpace, SpareFoot and Startup Storage Palmetto offer innovative self-storage solutions, including climate-controlled storage, the use of cloud storage or enhanced security capabilities.

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  • Retirement living

The current workforce generation tends to have little or no time to take care of their retired parents regularly. Startups such as Hometeam Care, LivingPath, or Cubigo offer various solutions for independent living of the elderly such as connecting elderlies to caregivers, finding suitable communities and providing one-stop access to services such as food, transportations and medical needs.

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However, it is important to understand that such startups understand their market. In Asian countries, for example, children traditionally pay more attention towards their elderly parents and retirement homes are not as attractive as compared to the people in the western countries.

  • Student Accommodations, Micro-units, Co-living spaces

As compared to the traditional approach of private residential rentals, startups are providing platforms for sharing, with the belief that the community created would bring benefits to their tenants. This applies to not just the workforce but also students. We could now see various startups emerging with this sharing concept such as the student accommodation platforms and provisions like Your-Space, Uniplaces or co-living spaces such as WeLive (WeWork’s co-living offshoot), Common, CommonSpace.

In conclusion, it is indeed that the urban vertical is undergoing rapid changes – the real estate industry is no longer centralized only to the government or the corporates. New ways of looking at the built environment are emerging, and new demands are coming; the new wave of urban innovations is evolving. The future is now.