By Re-Imagining Cities Foundation

February 2019

2018 was an epic year for Proptech as it has become a global phenomenon with investment in the sector skyrocketing from a mere US$186 million in 2011 to over US$12 billion in 2017.

Global leaders in real estate are rapidly adopting technology to manage their real estate assets better. Enhancing the end user experience becomes the new mantra of how to stay competitive while driving down operational costs and maximizing profits.

Following these global trends, Korea marks its presence in the market by stepping into the game with several Proptech initiatives. Although the proptech scene in Korea is in its early stage, we believe that it has enormous potential. According to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency, the Korean government will invest US$33.6 million this year in developing technologies for robotics, AI and biology. Current administration hopes to boost the economy and create jobs by supporting a startup ecosystem. The data from the Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Startups shows that last year a total of US$3.04 billion was invested in startups by VCs. Not only the public sector, but the private sector is also showing much more interest in boosting entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in the country. OurCrowd, a global leader in equity crowdfunding announced in January an institutional partnership agreement with a portfolio investment from South Korea’s KEB Hana Bank to pursue cooperation in support of Korea’s innovation ecosystem, aimed at creating key relationships for Korea’s significant corporations seeking technology solutions for the future. Also, five Korean startups: Crafton, Yello Mobile, Woowa Brothers, L&P Cosmetics and Viva Republica joined the global unicorn club. Country’s leading e-commerce company Coupang is now a decacorn after it received US$2.26 billion in November from Softbank Vision Fund.

In recent Proptech news, a leading accommodation platform Yanolja which is predicted to join the unicorn club in a few years is going global by offering its users hotel bookings not only in Korea but also in the Americas, Europe, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Another Korean Proptech company - Cupix that uses VR/ AR technologies to make an indoor 3D models of property from 360-degree photos, raised in January US$5.4 million from Athens, Stone Bridge, and Company K Partners. According to Korea Tech Today, Zoyi Corporation, a data analytics company for Retail sector surpassed 10,000 company clients with its online chat consulting solution – Channel Talk. As of right now, 22 countries use Channel Talk. For O2O commerce the company offers its people mapping solution called Walk Insights.

When looking at these developments, there is no doubt that the Korean Proptech scene will catch up with the ones in the US and Europe. After all, South Korea tops the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index, it comes in second in the ICT Development Index, and in one month it will launch 5G networks all over the country. Now it’s just a matter of time and right decisions in part of the main players: VC investors, startups and real estate professionals to reap the benefits of what Proptech can offer them. To assist the industry leaders in doing so, Proptech Korea initiative will launch at the end of March.

Proptech Korea will soon become the largest Proptech community in Korea to help accelerate the adoption of technology to build better buildings and smarter cities. Working together with leaders in Korea and abroad, the ecosystem will help connect the dots in this highly fragmented market of cities, real estate companies, thousands of proptech solutions, VCs, and investors. Proptech Korea will be the “go-to place” to connect Korean proptech companies to customers, investors and global markets. It is an active networking platform to create dialogue, collaboration, and ideate together to stay on top of global trends.

By Tsatsral Baatar, Head of Proptech Research at Re‐Imagining Cities Foundation. E. baatar@re‐ W.‐ Re‐imagining Cities is a proactive non‐profit with large global collaboration partners such as Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), WeGO Smart Sustainable Cities Organization, Architecture 2030, Andalucia Smart Cities Cluster, World Green Building Council, among others. We are based in Seoul, Korea but we operate globally. Recently, we became the global smart cities advisor to the LG Electronics Group to help collaborate with cities and real estate developers around the world with "greener & smarter" solutions into real estate developments. And, Proptech solutions will play a key role to accelerate “better buildings” and “smart, sustainable cities

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