Global property advisor Savills has revealed it invested in VuCity, the planning tool for producing 3D digital city models, at the end of last year as part of its drive into tech evolution.
The announcement came in Savills preliminary financial results for 2017. Nicholas Ferguson, chairman of Savills, explained in his introduction to the results: “Emerging technology continues to be a focal area in the real estate industry and also for our business.
“We have continued to invest in our own technology platform in order both to deliver innovative solutions to our clients through data analysis and insight and to drive internal efficiencies. One example is the formation of Workthere.com, Savills’ innovative response to the changing requirements of occupiers seeking serviced office/co-working space in global cities.”
Ferguson continued: “In addition, we have reviewed a significant number of investment opportunities in the field of emerging technology and our proprietary investment arm, Grosvenor Hill Ventures, has made a number of investments in promising technology opportunities. GHV comprises a small technology team led by the group CFO [Simon Shaw] with a remit to support external technology-based businesses with the capability of significantly enhancing or disrupting traditional business models in real estate services.
“Our largest investment to date is in YOPA, the digital hybrid residential UK estate agent. During the last 12 months it has grown to become the 10th largest agent in the UK. We have also invested in Proportunity, an Artificial Intelligence based start-up focused on real estate valuation. Finally, in December we invested in VuCity, the first digital smart cities platform which is focused on making planning applications faster and easier for sponsors and local authorities to progress.”
VuCity started as a joint venture between digital agency Wagstaffs Design and rights of light advisor GIA and is now a standalone business in its own right. The firm is strongest in the London market, advising local authorities including Southwark and Kingston upon Thames and developers on the impact of new tall buildings among other applications.
VuCity’s technology was also employed by Barratt to support development from planning consultation through to sales and marketing at Blackfriars Circus and Camden Courtyards sites. The business recently signed up its first Manchester client, landscape architect and public realm specialist Planit-IE.
Savills did not disclose the value of its investments.