May 19, 2017 01:00 By Somluck Srimalee The Nation 2,375 Viewed
Some of Thailand’s property firms have expressed interest in collaborating with and investing in start-ups to create property technology (proptech) to support business growth for the long term.
Sansiri is one of the first to invest in proptech by setting up Siri Venture, a joint venture with Siam Commercial Bank, to develop innovations ranging from conception to commercial viability.
Established with initial registered capital of Bt100 million, Siri Venture aims to build a network of at least 300 proptech start-ups by 2020.
Ananda Development has also started investing in start-ups related to the property business. Ananda Urban Tech, its venture-capital arm, will invest in funds and start-ups that develop innovative solutions for urban living problems.
The initiative consists of three parts: support the proptech ecosystem, set up a “fund of funds”, and provide venture capital. However, the company is still in the process of finalising the figures for both the “fund of funds” and the corporate VC fund, hoping to complete the process this year.
SC Asset Corporation has established SC Urban Co to invest in Fixzy Co, a start-up firm that provides home renovation or repair service through the “Fixzy” application. The investment will be announced next week.
At the “Tech in Asia Singapore” conference yesterday, JLL Asia Pacific chief executive officer Anthony Couse told an audience of tech entrepreneurs that real-estate had been viewed as a traditional business, and the time was right to embrace technology, digitisation and collaboration.
“We’re taking an agile approach to technology that will allow us to meet our clients’ needs today while preparing for the opportunities of tomorrow,” he said.
“We believe in big corporations being part of the larger tech ecosystem, engaging with the start-up scene and academic researchers, and learning from entrepreneurs and innovators. Proptech is an opportunity for us all to work together, and that’s really exciting.”
Proptech has been described as a burgeoning new sector whereby technology solutions are used to solve real-estate problems.
On the panel with Couse were Darius Cheung, founder and CEO of 99.co, a property search portal that recently secured US$7.9 million (Bt272 million) in funding, and Associate Professor Wen Yonggang of the newly launched Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Centre.
DSAIR is a research centre for artificial intelligence and big data analytics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
“Data and artificial intelligence will profoundly transform how the real-estate sector is operated nowadays, changing the way infrastructure, people and businesses are managed, and possibly opening up new business models or revenue streams,” Wen said.
JLL has already begun to make forays into the start-up sector with the launch of its Indian technology investment arm last October. The subsidiary has invested in two Indian start-ups: Foyr.com, which uses virtual reality and augmented reality to facilitate the customisation of interiors, and Cloud 1 Enterprises, a cloud-based platform to help companies provide safe and secure transportation for their employees.