Birmingham’s hotbed of tech talent could be key to success says leading innovation director

Alex Edds, JLL's UK director for Innovation.

Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands has a unique opportunity to embrace the latest PropTech trend says a leading innovation director from property experts JLL, with the largest tech & digital sector outside London.

Alex Edds, JLL’s UK director for Innovation addressed an audience of leading Birmingham business professionals at a seminar on the rise of PropTech and how to respond to the digital transformation of the industry.

“Greater Birmingham has the most tech and digital businesses of any core city in the UK outside of London.” said Alex. “The skills and entrepreneurial spirit are right on the doorstep and there is opportunity to harness the talent in the region to help future proof your own company as well as invest in new ones.

“We’re already seeing high profile companies such as John Lewis, The Economist, JLR and the BBC base their innovation units in Birmingham to take advantage of the eco-systems here.”

Alex continued: “Companies are starting to look at their processes and saying how can we do this more efficiently, more sustainably and at the same time improve the customer experience.”

“We’re really beginning to see changes to our industry such as WeWork, which is challenging the concept of workspace, creating a more collaborative, human approach to business.

“Locally, we’ve seen IM Properties push forward the logistics market by harnessing battery power technology to create the UK’s first Electricity Cost Neutral (ECN) building at The Hub in Witton. ”

Alex urged the developers and investors in the room to start to think differently. “Start the journey now. The industry will change quickly around you, so be sure to stay ahead of the curve.”

One example he gave was the emergence of truly smart buildings. “They’re coming fast. They will enable companies to offer employees a totally different experience to what we’re used to.”

Alex commented that JLL has invested in JLL Spark to assist the company in its journey in transforming the real estate industry. The new venture led by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs is seeking to develop and invest in the next wave of disruptors.

JLL has also created its NXT office studio in the London HQ – a unique and immersive technology set to revolutionise how occupiers search for office space.

Alex concluded: “Some of the industry’s biggest investors such as Blackstone, BlackRock, Hines and Swire Properties are already making investments into the PropTech market. Companies that don’t follow suit and confront the reality of digital transformation could be in danger of being left behind.”

Click here to view a short interview with Alex discussing the rise of PropTech.