10 Must-Have Innovative Solutions Discovered at MIPIM 2014

During a session at the MIPIM 2014 Innovation Forum, panelists discussed some of the most exciting, disruptive innovations impacting the real estate industry.
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Cannes, France—During a session at the MIPIM 2014 Innovation Forum, Carlo Ratti, director of MIT Senseable City Lab & Partner of Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy); Marek Partel, founding partner of Estateguru (Estonia); and four students from the ESSEC university in Paris discussed some of the most exciting, disruptive innovations impacting the real estate industry. The session was moderated by Peter Woodward of Quest Associates.


According to Partel, there is a real estate guru in all of us—someone who knows that one of the safest ways to grow your wealth is investing in real estate.

There is currently a limited availability of bank lending, which has led to a rising demand of alternative funding sources.

Historically, however, real estate investments have been for the wealthy and privileged. Through crowdfunding, Estateguru, which is a community where “the person next door rubs shoulders with owners and developers,” plans to break these barriers. You can start lending with only 100 euro, Partel said.

Once the developer applies for funding, the EstateGuru team reviews the project and commissions an independent valuation report from a reputable property adviser. The project is then assigned a risk category on the basis of size, LTV ratio and other factors. Afterwards, the project is listed on EstateGuru.eu.

During the syndication period, developers and investors conclude loan contracts on standard terms up to the target-funding amount.

The advantage for developers is that they get quick access to competitive rates and volumes to carry out their business plan. Investors, on the other hand, are able to allocate funds across a number of projects to spread risk, while receiving interest payments at regular times.

EstateGuru will launch in March-April and is currently looking for partners around the world.

Contour crafting

Contour crafting, a disruptive innovation, involves a construction technology that reduces energy use and emissions by using a rapid-prototype or 3-D printing process. Developed by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California, the Contour Crafting technology has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components. Through contour crafting, a 130-square-meter house can be built in just 20 hours. This building method is safe, while also bringing a significant reduction in construction costs. NASA intends to use it for the construction of lunar houses.

Sharing spaces in their uses: the way to live better

This innovative urbanism concept involves a new perspective on districts, which are no longer seen as the sum of their buildings. Instead, they are perceived through the interconnection that can be established between their buildings and their sense of community.

A cloudless marriage: 1+1=3

This innovation refers to a very different corporate mindset in real estate business: two or more firms join efforts, offices, knowledge and talents to work together and bring a new product on the market. A good example in this sense is the collaboration between Phillips and Somfy, which brought the Light balancing innovation, a symbiosis between natural and artificial light management. Somfy’s solution manages natural light to provide useable daylight, while the Philip’s light control system adjusts the artificial light levels to maximize both visual comfort and energy savings.

Augmented reality: Envision future cities

Through the use of 3D glasses, this technological innovation enables the user to envision a building, a neighborhood or even a city, while still in the planning stages. Errors can therefore be prevented, before the actual construction of the project begins.

Is there a CPR trained citizen in the room?

The next innovation discussed at the forum refers to technological tools that provide users real time information about their communities, from housing vacancy to blocked roads.

Now smartphones enlighten your stay at the office

The smartphone can tell us whether the parking lot at work is full or whether the meeting rooms at the office are vacant or not.

My wonderful maid

This innovation could put the cleaning of floors, walls and windows behind us. This is possible through the use of self-cleaning photocatalytic coating, which would end pollution as we know it. Imagine if our streets could be paved with this stuff!

Smart grids: Towards more energy efficiency

Today we want to live in sustainable, cost-efficient cities. Smart grids bring an efficient energy management system that enables the sharing of energy between houses, offices and retail spaces, as well as an import/export of renewable energy between countries.

Shared self-driving cars

The self-driving electric cars of the future could be used more effectively, totaling blurring the distinction between private and public transportation.

“We are clearly in the phase of sustainability,” Woodward said.

But the true disruptive change will occur only when we shift towards inclusivity.

“We can’t live as cities and create futures if we just create the best for those who can afford it,” he added. “The future city that you will want to live in actually lives with well-being and in harmony with itself. And that is a disruptive concept that the real estate industry will be beginning to think about. So I think in five years’ time, I shall be doing inclusivity facilitations here.”