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Joint Development of Innovative Solutions — Dr. Manuel Götzendörfer talks about BE5

The construction and real estate industry, with more than 300 billion euros in annual revenue and over 1 million employees, is one of Germany’s most important branches of industry. When it comes to the subject of digitization, however, the industry no longer looks so great. To change that, the innovation and digitization platform BE5 was brought into being. One of the aims of the platform is to promote cross-company cooperation. What else there is to know about BE5, the initiators behind the platform and the role of startups in the innovation process is what we wanted to find out from Dr. Manuel Götzendörfer, Managing Director of BE5.

Just recently, the Platform for Built Environment Focused Innovations, Ventures & Enterprises – or BE5 for short (pronounced bee-five) – was launched. Who are the initiators behind it, and what is the objective of the platform?

BE5 was initiated by UnternehmerTUM, Europe’s leading center for innovation and startups. As founding partners, we were able to get GC Gruppe, Knauf, Max Bögl, McKinsey & Company, Peri, Schüco and Warema on board — and we’re currently negotiating membership with further companies. The objective of BE5 is to inspire young talent to get involved in innovations in the construction, real estate and infrastructure value-added chain and to bring established companies together with startups to develop innovative solutions together. In addition, employees of established companies in the value-added chain are to become actively involved in the digital transformation of the industry.

Startups as catalysts

What role do startups play within the framework of the platform?

Startups are an important driving force behind innovation. They adopt new technologies early on, translate them into concrete solutions and then quickly launch them on the market. That makes startups catalysts in the construction industry, which is facing fundamental changes caused by digitization. At the same time, by working together with established companies, startups can align their solutions even better with existing market needs, systematically advance their development and establish themselves faster in the market through the larger companies’ channels and networks. Within the framework of BE5, a startup pool is going to be established. Those startups will then be specifically involved in various events and innovation formats offered by BE5.

Which digital developments do you currently find most interesting in the construction and/or real estate industries?

To quickly meet the demand for affordable and high-quality housing, industrial construction with prefabrication and modularization will play an increasingly important role. The use of new technologies such as IoT, AR/VR and blockchain are receiving increased attention in the industry. The systematic generation and use of data along the entire life cycle of buildings will also be of much greater significance in the future. To counteract the impending shortage of skilled professionals, the use of digital tools to utilize resources more precisely and efficiently will also be of growing importance, as will support from robotic solutions.

It’s the right time to think about the future

When it comes to digitization, the construction and real estate industry have a lot of catching up to do compared to other industries. Why do you think that is?

The industry is divided up into small sections and fragmented. It is very much characterized by small companies with just a few employees. There are hardly any major players who have the relevant market shares to set new standards. For an industry that has been conservative from the very beginning, those factors are certainly not conducive for rapid digitization. Moreover, the industry has been defined by a high natural market demand for years, which leads companies to primarily use their available resources to secure operative business. Frequently, there’s hardly any time for strategic development. But it’s precisely the periods in which companies are doing quite well that are the right time for organizations to invest in their futures. That is something a growing number of companies are realizing, which is why they’re tackling the topic of digitization more and more. This is also the case for BE5’s founding partners, who are already considered leading innovators in their respective areas.

Can interested startups be a part of BE5, and if yes, how?

BE5 is planning diverse networking events, expert workshops and hackathons in which we will also include startups. The main focus is to be on young companies, in particular at a startup match-making event. At the event, we plan to systematically link founders with established companies, for example, to initiate strategic cooperation projects.
Startups that would like to join our pool can contact us at any time with our contact form at https://be5.unternehmertum.de/.

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