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MIPIM | ‘Low tech is the future’

The drive to innovate cannot neglect the fact that adopting new tech systems will have a negative impact on carbon emissions, Sophie Rosso, deputy head of French developer Redman has warned.

“We definitely believe in low tech. Low tech is the future,” Rosso said in a panel discussion about innovation in large corporates at the MIPIM Propel Station yesterday.

Although the company has developed innovative buildings and been involved with incubators in Europe, she said: “We have an image of high tech innovators, but we strongly believe that the contrary is the right way in terms of low tech.

“We invest a lot in frugality, in using less – and we don’t have a choice.”

Speaking on the panel chaired by PlaceTech editor Paul Unger, Rosso also highlighted that taking the low-carbon route is not cheap. At one project in Paris, Redman spent a year finding ways to incorporate more wood and other low-carbon materials.

“Three people in Redman worked 24 hours a day on this thing. It’s more expensive… but we consider that we are in the right way.”

Other highlights from the discussion:

Small changes can deliver big savings

Robbert Heekelaar, VP, architecture and emerging technologies, Prologis said that analysing the pumps in its warehouses can help them detect problems – and fix them – very quickly: “If you start to monitor with only a few sensors what those pumps are doing, then you determine leakage in a very early stage.”

“[It’s] a small scale solution that we’re implementing now in 3,000 buildings in the US – and then we’ll follow it in Europe – which already saved us a lot of money.”

Understand the problem before finding a solution

Asked why large corporates are still investing in new companies, Oliver Durix, managing director of Bouygues Immobilier: “We need to be in touch with the market and with what’s going to be the future of the business model.”

But he added: “The question today is not to find the startup to develop a product, but to find the problem.”

How Allianz approaches building innovation

Grigor Hadjiev, head of product and development in West Europe at Allianz, said the company has four “pillars” in its building programme: ESG, user experience, data management and cybersecurity.

“The user experience is absolutely fundamental because that is how we start thinking about what is needed in a building… we believe that the building creates value for the occupier – the end user,” he said.

Start working with startups when they’re still small

Manuel Käsbauer, chief technology and innovation officer at Patrizia, said that integrating startups has been a challenge for years: startups might come up with very good solutions but not understand how the industry has developed. Trying to integrate a lot of disparate systems can also become “an absolute mess”.

He said: “We need to find a different way to integrate them into the existing industry, but not making them lose their spirit in their activities.

Things are improving, Käsbauer said, as corporates start to collaborate with startups early in their development: “We’re going into the discussion with them early on… sometimes from the seed idea onwards to basically look: how does the company need to be developed the product that it fits to the industry as well?”

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