Project Alpha brings Investa together with Oxford and SparkBeyond in strategic innovation partnership

Real estate is the largest asset class is the world: a $200 trillion global industry. Historically, our industry has lagged when it comes to innovation. It was a “nice to have”. But with rapid accelerating technology increasingly able to make a big impact, innovation is no longer just for start-ups. 

To remain competitive in a rapidly changing market, companies need to level up. Not only do internal teams need to be rock solid, but organisations need to be looking outside. This is where partnerships and strategic alliances come into play.

At Investa, we are thrilled to be working with Oxford Properties to create a world class innovation, advanced analytics and artificial intelligence capability. Combining the deep and local expertise at Investa, with the global powerhouse that is Oxford, allows us to build expert interdisciplinary teams across the world. Our partnerships with SparkBeyond, an Artificial Intelligence Platform out of Israel, as well as data providers in many countries, allow us to build analytics solutions that are cutting edge. 

Joanna Marsh, GM Innovation & Strategic Projects, spoke at Oxford’s Momentum 2021 Conference on 5 February, and shared her perspectives on innovating across borders. She shared the magic that happens when we commit to building the very best team, regardless of where people live, which company they work for, or what role they perform.

She emphasised that, vital to this work, is a leadership team that understands innovation. Dean Hopkins, Pete Menegazzo, Emily Lee-Waldao and the leadership across SparkBeyond, Investa & Oxford understand what is at stake. They encourage action. They make it safe to try new things. They understand that our businesses need to be flexible enough to allow a culture of innovation and an appetite for risk in a controlled way. This is exceptional leadership and it is rare.

The recently completed Project Alpha, sought to unpack the drivers of property value via data and AI, by comparing the impact of value-add and operational components against location and building attributes in Sydney, Boston and Toronto, Canada. The project goal was to answer one simple question - "What can we control in an office building that adds value – above the value of the dirt?"

The business and technical teams from Investa, Oxford and SparkBeyond came together as a virtual team across four countries and seven cities. Due to the time differences, the productivity was outstanding, enabling 20 hours of working time a day. The team dealt with more than 20 years of transactional data, 20 different external data sources and asked over 10 million questions using Artificial Intelligence. 

Joanna said that while they are at the beginning of the journey, they have already identified some core insights that affect value that relate to amenities, external works and optimal tenant composition. The team are now taking this to the next level with build to rent and other asset classes. 

She finished her remarks on the next frontier of innovation and advanced analytics. She said she is thrilled with the collaboration, the open innovation and the ability to take something that is an idea, put a team around it and take action quickly in order to learn. The innovation conversation is evolving. 

If you are reading this and would like to join the tribe or form a partnership, please reach out to Joanna! We are actively building our open innovation beyond borders program and would love to hear from you!

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