The Intersection of Innovation and Global CRE

May 21, 2017
Written by: Wendy Mann, CAE, CREW Network CEO

MIT’s Steve Weikel moderates a panel on the intersection of technology and real estate. 

Opening keynote session speaker Skylar Tibbits wowed attendees with a look at the dynamic opportunities the Self-Assembly Lab housed at MIT's International Design Center is exploring. From programmable materials to granular jamming, new construction materials and new ways of constructing have the potential to transform the way we develop real estate. Following the keynote, the conference included a panel on Latin America, African markets and a good deal of networking and dialogue between attendees. Day two panels focused on growth opportunities in India and the future of cities, which was moderated by JLL’s Head of Global Research Rosemary Feenan. The innovation sessions presented by students and thought leaders rounded out the program.

JLL’s Rosemary Feenan, head of global research moderated a session titled Building City 3.0.

The intersection of technology and CRE has always been intriguing to me. Look for Wired Score in the future when your building will be scored based on its digital capabilities — and this will become a selling point just like your walk score is. Two student groups from the entrepreneurial program introduced digital platforms: one called BitSense, which monitors space usage so that owners/facilities managers can get real time data about how space is being used and can adjust as needed. The other group introduced us to Placeful, which is software that combines all the local regulations and specs for a parcel and computes information to provide you with all the data you need for decision-making, including the cost of building. Wow, wow, wow! These types of technology will have a dramatic impact on commercial real estate.

Steve Weikal, head of Industry Relations at the MIT Center for Real Estate, told me that this year’s class had 50 percent women. I was thrilled to hear that. I had the opportunity to meet some of these women, and they are impressive. From their backgrounds to their aspirations, they will be formidable leaders in the business. CREW Network has partnered with MIT previously to produce our benchmarking study, so it was good to connect with Lisa Thoma, associate director the CRE program as well.

With the Boston skyline as a backdrop, CREW Network President Alison Beddard spoke with CREW Boston member and MIT grad Heather Hohenthal, a partner at TA Realty.


Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.

Twitter: @crew_wendym

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