In 2010 Columbia University established Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE) to address current and emerging global issues of the built environment through the lens of the real estate professional. To do this CURE builds upon a platform of direct industry engagement through joint research projects, symposia, conferences and publications. In order to bridge the gap between academic research and the startup ecosystem the CURE program has recently announced a partnership with the PropTech accelerator MetaProp NYC to create a pre-accelerator program.
Pre-accelerators appeal to companies that are at the earliest stage in the startup process. The structured program – a first as far we know in the real estate technology world – focuses on big ideas from first time entrepreneurs, students, recent graduates and scholars. Programming focuses on mentoring, validation of the business concept, market and competitive analysis, and other startup fundamentals.
To kick off this innovative collaboration Columbia and MetaProp NYC held their first ever FormForward event on Friday, March 31st at The Times Center in New York City. The event aimed to showcase some of the cutting-edge technological advances in building design and development.
Luc Wilson and Elie Gamburg from Kohn Pedersen Fox provided a demonstration of a technology being developed through their Urban Interface group that uses enormous datasets to allow users to iterate through thousands of design concepts in minutes. John Gilbert of Rudin Management then explained the need and use of their building operating system called Nantum that analyzes operation use and utilities in order to recommend ways in real time to reduce energy use and costs. Finally, Cindy McLaughlin ran through a use case of Envelope, a software that runs real-time zoning and 3D massing studies that allow you to analyze development potential of individual sites and assemblages in a matter of seconds and adjust parameters as needed.
To end the event, Zach Aarons of MetaProp NYC led a discussion on the current and future role of technology advancement in the construction and design industry. Doug Maas, President of Cosentini Engineering Group, and Pat Hauserman, Senior Vice President at Aecom, reflected on their experiences in the construction industry and provided thoughts on what role technology may play in the future of the industry.
Though the pre-accelerator startups won’t “graduate” or get a diploma –- since this is not a formal college program – MetaProp NYC expects that the initiative will be at least partially responsible for up to $25 million in startup funding, sponsorships and grants with the money coming from MetaProp NYC, venture investors, corporate sponsors, foundations and government sources. FormForward will be an ongoing event series that will continue to showcase the next generation of technology to be applied to the built world, including pre-accelerator participants.