Technology’s impact on the real estate industry is increasing exponentially. In 2015, $1.9 billion was invested in real estate technology companies around the world and that number rose 36 percent in 2016 to $2.6 billion. As one of the largest real estate services firms, JLL has been a leader in the adoption of PropTech, creating advanced data analytics tools. The firm has also acquired software and technology integration companies like ATG, BRG and Corrigo. And now a new initiative called JLL Spark aims to help JLL explore PropTech opportunities with an entrepreneurial, start-up approach.

The new global business unit will identify and deliver cutting-edge technology-driven real estate service offerings. Led by co-CEOs Mihir Shah and Yishai Lerner, JLL Spark will create new products, make strategic investments and incubate proptech startups.

Both Lerner and Shah have successful, broad-based track records of founding, managing and investing in profitable technology businesses. Lerner is an experienced product-driven technology executive. He was co-founder of several successful start-ups including Mob.ly (acquired by Groupon), Detour and CarrierIQ (acquired by AT&T). He was also the first engineer at Core Mobility (acquired by Smith Micro) and an early (angel) investor in tech companies such as Uber and Boom Supersonic.

Shah is a successful entrepreneur and seasoned product executive. He was most recently vice president and general manager of mobile at Groupon, where he oversaw substantial and market-leading growth. Previously CEO and co-founder of Mob.ly (subsequently acquired by Groupon), he has extensive Silicon Valley experience including early investments in start-ups such as Uber and a senior role at Yahoo!

“We’re looking at the entire commercial real estate ecosystem, the occupiers, investors and all the other parts of it and trying to understand where there’s the best opportunity for technology to make a difference,” Shah told cre.tech. “We’re going to build a team and build products in-house here that we will launch to market, we may make strategic investments in startups that are already along the way, or we may even incubate promising entrepreneurs.”

Once JLL Spark finds products or starts to build them, the company can leverage all the distribution and other infrastructure JLL already has in place to take those products to market quickly. Lerner added: “JLL’s commitment to technology has already had a large impact. By joining the company, we have an exciting opportunity to build an incredible team and help realize JLL’s hunger and aspirations for greater innovation.”

Shah and Lerner will report directly to Christian Ulbrich, JLL’s Global CEO.