Property agent JLL, developer Swire Properties and the real estate technology arm of China’s biggest insurer Ping An kicked off mainland China’s first corporate proptech accelerator programme at an official launch in Shanghai last week.
Known as UrbanLab, the initiative will work with promising proptech startups in China to create innovative tech solutions for the real estate industry, focusing on automation, analytics, smart buildings, and artificial intelligence among other areas.
The launch comes as $9.6 billion in venture capital was raised globally for proptech last year, and 53 percent of real estate companies have invested in the sector, according to JLL.
“This programme extends our proptech efforts in the region, including the recent inaugural ‘China Proptech Forum’ that we organised in both Beijing and Shanghai,” said JLL’s chief executive officer for Greater China, K K Fung.
Ping An’s Cloud accelerator team will run the three-month programme, selecting between six and twelve mature proptech startups from the three companies’ industry networks by 20 September.
As well as being able to connect with potential investors, the startups will be mentored by industry leaders and experts, who will advise them on how to enhance and scale up their products to regional and international levels.
Real World Proptech Product Testing
Over the accelerator’s three months, the startups will be allowed to test and refine their products in the real world.
Hong Kong-listed Swire Properties, which has an in-house tech pipeline fund that targets property technology, will give the programme’s participants access to its mixed-use development HKRI Taikoo Hui as well as its shopping mall Taikoo Li Qiantan, both in Shanghai, to test their hi-tech wares.
“We’re delighted to be working with two industry giants to help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs from the Chinese PropTech ecosystem through UrbanLab,” said the developer’s chief executive, Guy Bradley. “Even more exciting is the fact that it gives Swire Properties immediate access to cutting-edge technology solutions that have the potential to change the way we do business, and it can bring long-term benefits including those in the area of sustainable development.”
As part of the accelerator program, JLL and Ping An Urban Tech will provide participants with additional opportunities to test their products
Ping An Urban Tech’s chief technology officer Wei Baisong said that the accelerator was the starting point for an urban technology ecosystem that will change the real estate industry.
“With the spirit of a financial services firm, Ping An Urban Tech also hopes to find a model that can seamlessly integrate these technology solutions with its finance and technology ecosystems,” he added.
As of 31 December 2018, Ping An Urban Tech had signed contracts with municipal governments in China to deliver image recognition, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cloud computing technologies in 50 of the country’s cities.