In this article, we’ll look at how the yearly Proptech Startup & Scale-up Europe Awards winner is selected, and why this Award is important for proptech startups.
Every year, the European Proptech Association hosts the Proptech Startup and Scale-up Europe Awards. This competition is part of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative that aims to create networking opportunities between technology startups, scale-ups, and ecosystem builders. The ultimate goal is to accelerate European startups’ growth.
Why is it important to hold this award?
Within the broader aim of helping startups succeed and accelerate, this award gives both the winner of this award and participating startups and scale-ups more visibility and support. The winner receives coaching and advice on how to apply for funding programs, (such as the Horizon Europe program), a 10.000 euro prize in services, becomes listed as a European PropTech Association member, obtains privileged access to investors and subsidy opportunities, and receives official recognition from the European Commission and investors as the most innovative PropTech Startup of the year (or as the winner in your selective category).
In a more general sense, the awards create an opportunity for proptech startups and scale-ups to find the best and most succinct way to explain their technology. It gives younger proptechs the chance to practice how to convey the value of their product to possible investors and clients and thus aids them in refining their pitch. Participation also exposes them to other proptechs and consequently allows them to know what is going on in the field, how their product/service slots into – or could possibly connect to other products/services already in the market, and most importantly, acts as an opportunity to define exactly what it is that sets them apart from other proptechs. Hopefully, participants come away from the experience with a clear pitch and document that will support their future presentations for everything from funding to marketing and client engagement.
The European Proptech Awards 2021: The judging process
The awards are judged by experts or C-level professionals in real estate, construction, and technology: this year – that is, in 2021 – there were a total of 70 judges. During the evaluation process, judges were not only on the lookout for startups or scale-ups whose businesses are feasible market-wise, but also for businesses that are good for the societies that they operate in. Thus, while innovation is important, it is not the only criteria to succeed. More specifically, there were five criteria that judges measured startup and scale-up proptechs by:
- Social Impact: Is the startup or scale-up not only useful but also good for (its) society? Does it have a positive impact on people’s well-being?
- Sustainability: Does the startup/scale-up reduce energy consumption or carbon emissions; does it make use of sustainable energy and practices?
- Technical innovation: To what degree is the innovation technical?
- Business Model Innovation: Is the startup considered a business innovator in terms of its business model? Are its value proposition and underlying operation model innovative?
- Potential Problem Solving: Does the startup/scale-up solve a problem, and what is the product-market fit of their solution to the problem?
The 483 entrants to this year’s awards were first narrowed down to 50 semi-finalists. Next, the semi-finalists pitched during a two-day virtual event. At the end of this exercise, the judges were able to identify the ten finalists. These ten finalists finally went on to pitch in-person at the finals event, held at the Realty Belgium 2021 Summit.
The 2021 awards showed an incredible amount of innovation, passion, and in particular, vision on the part of the startups and scale-ups involved. Although it can be disappointing not to be appointed as the overall winner, all our finalists and semi-finalists were exceptional. To be a finalist means that you’ve caught the judges’ attention and that you are solving real and pressing problems in an outstanding way. Getting through to the final round is therefore a genuine achievement.
Below, we have provided a short description of each of the finalists as a way of showing the calibre of our finalists, but also to show other startups the large variety of proptechs that participate in these awards.
ZigZagSolar is solar- or PV panels with a literal twist. These PV panels are designed to capture solar energy, no matter the season or the angle of the sun. Another plus side is its aesthetically pleasing design – thus contributing and not detracting from the environment in more than one sense.
Octopus Lab has reached deep into all aspects of indoor air quality, helping you get it right from design/renovation to operation. Their Indalo software lets you monitor and predict what the air quality will be like in your buildings, and helps you to reduce energy consumption, thus contributing to both the health of the environments and building occupants.
Enerbrain makes use of IoT technology and Artificial Intelligence to bring about the right balance between lowering energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and optimal ambient comfort (in particular for tertiary buildings).
Dabbel uses software to reduce CO2 emissions in buildings; no hardware is necessary. The software can be implemented fast (sometimes in less than a week), and “replaces manual control of the existing Building Management System (BMS) with Artificial intelligence, which operates the energy systems autonomously and in real-time.”
Spotscale scans buildings to make high-resolution online 3D models that allow people to work together on these buildings on the cloud (for renovations, etc). These models are also used to analyse buildings and can reveal useful information such as energy leakages (through thermal imaging) and whether certain areas or parts of the building are in need of maintenance.
Planalogic helps design better buildings and cities through their design platform on which designers and architects can run different design simulations to find the best-performing one(s). By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, Planalogic is able to provide fast, fact-based results. The best part is that you can choose the variables/criteria that you would like to optimize within the simulation.
OMRT builds smart digital applications that help planners and designers of the built environment. Their software provides clear, yet detailed visual insights, and provides estimations of construction projects in advance, ensures a shorter lead time for projects, and helps avoid failure costs.
Sally R improves the performance of your current HVAC system through a cloud-based service. Based on observing some of the concepts of how air is reused in an energy-efficient way in the International Space Station (ISS), Sally R found a way to improve air quality and energy savings at the same time. With such an innovative approach, Sally R took 3rd place at the awards.
Ilke homes is achieving astounding feats in terms of building houses fast. The shortage of houses in the UK (and other parts of the world), as well as the climate crises, act as motivation for this company. Currently, they are building two sustainable modular homes per day (and in a few months will increase that number to six). It is no surprise that this company took 2nd place at the awards.
The winner of this year’s awards
Finally, the winner of the PropTech Startup & Scale-Up Europe Awards 2021, is Hyperion Robotics. Since construction is the least automated industry and currently suffers from skilled labour shortages, Hyperion’s large-scale 3D printing of circular concrete comes as a timely solution. Another problem is the fact that cement is responsible for eight per cent of CO2 emissions, and that most waste material is currently not being recycled. Hyperion Robotics makes use of reinforced recycled concrete, meaning that through automation and recycling, they are making building with concrete cheaper, faster, safer, and more planet-friendly (with about 30 times less CO2 being emitted).