Brisbane is entering a golden decade of construction and infrastructure investment – and the City is supporting local property technology companies to make the most of it.
Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) will continue its popular Property Technology (PropTech) Initiative, established to support the burgeoning tech cluster associated with the property and construction industry, in FY2021-22.
Speaking at the launch of BEDA’s PropTech programs for the next financial year, Head of Property & Tourism Dustin Welch encouraged local businesses who are part of this fast-growing technology vertical to make the most of a transformative moment in the City’s history.
“We are looking at a golden age of construction and infrastructure investment over the next decade, and PropTech has a massive part to play in that,” he said.
“From the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, Howard Smith Wharves, the Dexus Waterfront Brisbane precinct, Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane Quarter and Brisbane Live to public transport projects like Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro, the infrastructure capacity and opportunity that’s ahead of us in Brisbane for the next 10 years is going to provide PropTechs with access to a range of new customers.”
Welch said Brisbane is strongly positioned to drive the growth of PropTech – which will, in turn, support the growth of the property industry.
“Research undertaken in conjunction with PwC Australia indicates that, without digitisation, the property industry in South East Queensland will grow organically by about 41,700 jobs by 2038-39. However, with digitisation – by enhancing the industry with PropTech – we can increase employment by a further 30-50 per cent.
“The opportunity is there for us to drive that, because 40 per cent of all Australian PropTechs are founded in Queensland, and Queensland PropTech companies saw an average of 17.2 per cent revenue growth last year. So we’re really punching above our weight in this sector.
“We see it as an excellent sector for BEDA to support, because what we’re interested in is employment growth. That’s what we’re judged on, and we see our PropTech Initiative as a great way to facilitate more people being employed.”
BEDA’s PropTech programs, which Welch called “the key pillars” of the PropTech Initiative, are pitched at supporting emerging technology businesses in three key lifecycle stages.
Meet the Industry
Intended for PropTech businesses in their development stage, either at pre-revenue or generating less than $500,000 in annual revenue, BEDA’s Meet the Industry program is designed to help emerging entrepreneurs refine their products, access a network of property industry experts and thought leaders, and learn from established entrepreneurs who have done it all before.
“It’s a two-day program, split across two weeks, where we bring in industry experts and professionals to talk to you about what their pain points are, what issues they need solved, and how Proptechs can refine their pitch to speak in the customer’s language,” Welch said.
Welch said PropTechs who have participated in previous Meet the Industry programs have left inspired, with a better understanding of the industry and a roadmap for how they could progress their product to the next phase of growth and revenue.
The first Meet the Industry program for FY2021-22 will be held across October 8 and 18, with the second program being held across May 6 and 13. Applications, which close 14 days before the program start date, can be uploaded here.
The Pilot Program
Targeted at PropTech businesses in their scale stage, generating between $500,000 and $2 million in annual revenue, the PropTech Pilot Program strategically partners emerging PropTech businesses with industry leaders.
“This program is more advanced and much more intensive,” Welch said. “There’s more one-on-one mentoring as part of this program, and we try to partner you with the most suitable industry expert for your product. It can lead to a dramatic transformation for your pitch and your product.”
Participants in the four-week program gain an in-depth understanding of how to scale their PropTech business, while building valuable connections with industry leaders and putting their business model to the test in the market.
Established to support businesses in their growth phase, the Bridging Initiative is open to PropTechs generating more than $2 million in annual revenue.
“The Bridging Initiative is really about celebrating the local PropTechs that are doing well,” Welch said, “and facilitating connections for them nationally and internationally.”
As well as the three programs, Welch said BEDA will host a number of roundtable discussions throughout the year with select PropTechs and industry participants.
“The thing about BEDA is that we connect the whole industry,” Welch said. “If you’ve got a problem that we can’t solve, we’ll know who can, whether it’s an industry body or a specific developer or asset owner. We have the whole industry to draw on.”
Welch’s predecessor in charge of the PropTech Initiative, Isaac Coonan, has left his position as BEDA’s Senior Industry Development Manager for Technology, but will continue to support the local PropTech community. He’s the founder of a private company, PropTech BNE, which acts as a centralised point of promotion, amplification and education for the sector.
“We know the property sector needs a facelift, and we know it’s not perfect, but we’re not here to disrupt, cancel or eradicate it,” said Coonan, who also spoke at the BEDA launch. “We focus on working with tech companies that have got a mission to enable, support and future-proof the property industry.”
PropTech BNE’s core projects include producing the Australian PropTech Industry Map, an annual report that surveys the industry and highlights investment patterns and commercialisation trends; facilitating industry collaboration and engagement, which includes bringing investors together with PropTechs; forging connections with international markets; and developing an ecosystem of local PropTech founders.
“We’re trying to ensure that founders have support from each other,” he said, “because there are certain problems that can only be solved through founder-to-founder connection.”
Upcoming PropTech BNE events include industry investor nights, founders dinners, and a masterclass webinar with a contingent of Hong Kong property industry figures – including a developer, an investor and a government representative – sharing their advice for Brisbane PropTechs who are interested in expanding to Hong Kong.
Rather than competing with each other, Coonan said PropTech BNE and BEDA are “two separate companies that complement each other very well… if anything, I think the things we have planned can be seen as aftercare initiatives for companies who have been through BEDA’s PropTech programs.”
Though he is no longer running the PropTech Initiative, Coonan strongly encouraged eligible businesses to apply for BEDA’s programs.
“There isn’t another City-led property technology initiative like this in the southern hemisphere,” he said. “Brisbane is the only city that is properly championing PropTech at this level.
“Better yet, the programs don’t cost you anything. You don’t have to part with equity, or pay a fee to be a part of it. This is something BEDA is doing because they want you to become successful – because if you’re successful, you will create jobs, and everybody wins.”