Interview | | Oct. 2020

Read the interview in Bulgarian published by here.

1. The investment approach ESCALAR launched by the European Commission and developed together with the European Investment Fund (EIF) is a new European finance model featuring entrepreneurs. Can you give us more details on the programme, and what are the objectives the Commission is aiming to in particular by providing finance to proptech businesses?

The program aims to mobilise additional investments in EU based scale-ups and startups, by activating capital of pension funds, insurance companies, … These risk-averting investors will be incentivised to invest in non-mature companies, by a financial mechanism that guarantees 50% of the capital they will invest. In the first phase, the mechanism only applies to Investment Funds (no direct investment in companies) that invest in scale-ups & startups. Example: a private investment fund of 20 million Euro can apply for Escalar acceptance. If accepted, then pension funds also invest 20 Million Euro in that fund, which in fact doubles the size of the fund and makes it possible to invest larger amounts into scale-ups/startups.

2.  What are the eligibility criteria for the companies to receive finance under the programme?

The program is aimed at Funds. These funds must invest at least 75% of the capital in Scale-ups. The companies must be EU based. In order to benefit from Escalar, the funds must send in a proposal to the European Commission.

3. What is the reason why the proptech sector is calling for a prompt and major financing support these days?

PropTech is an industry growing exponentially since 5 years. Covid-19 even accelerates this growth. PropTech in Europe produces high quality startups and scale-ups, but there is a funding gap compared to the USA and China.

4. What is going to be the effect of the European ‘Green Deal’ on the proptech industry in Europe? Is the proptech sector likely to have a big say on decarbonizing Europe, improving the energy efficiency, and reaching the climate goals?

PropTech sits at the crossroads of Green and Digital = the 2 major topics on the agenda of the European Commission. Real Estate is responsible for 44% of gas emissions, large energy and water consumptions. The Green Deal will impose strict regulations that aim to reach the EU Climate goals. To meet the requirements of these regulations, the real estate sector will need to turn to technological solutions (provided by PropTech) that enable reaching those goals while at the same creating efficiencies.

5. Beside ESCALAR, are there any further European-level initiatives to give support to start- ups and scale-ups in the proptech sector by way of finance?

Yes: Horizon Europe, Fast Track to Innovation, Life, European Innovation Fund, … be the segments to call for their best notice?

The EU based Proptech companies offer high quality solutions, that is the reason why USA and China based investors are increasingly shopping on the EU proptech market. The most crowded segments are Manage & Operate + Live & Work.

7. Speaking of proptech businesses, which are the eligibility criteria for investors to believe they are promising?

1° must create a fast ROI, 2° must be a solution that allows a quick implementation, 3° must be scalable solution, 4° must be aligned with the principles of the EU Green Deal.

8. Recently the European Proptech Association announced its partnership with the European Space Agency. Would you bring us more details on the PropTech Kick-Start programme, and which is the goal behind it?

The program aims to select the best EU PropTech companies 1° to give them financial support, 2° to allow them to integrate into their solutions, technologies which have been developed within the framework of the European Space Agency. For example: geolocalisation, tracking of remote construction sites, predicting areas where we should/should not build, etc.

9. Speaking Europe, which are the countries at the helm in the proptech sector, and what are their policies to support its growth?

As PropTech is for a large part a digital transformation process of the real estate world, we can not say that we have countries who are ‘more developed’ than others: we see great scale-ups and startups in every country. Cross border collaboration – which is what the European Proptech Association aims to scale – results in quite some companies having multi-country teams.

10. Is the proptech sector in Europe competitive compared to China and the USA, and which prove to be the major challenges to it in the years to come?

The EU PropTech sector is certainly competitive and of high quality: China and the USA are investing a lot in EU based proptechs. The main challenge will be: how to finance the growth of EU Proptech companies with EU money and how to make sure that EU proptechs do not leave for other continents, but stay within Europe – creating jobs and prosperity within our EU countries. The Escalar program is the first financial instrument aiming at doing exactly that, but there will be more programs to follow.