Posted on August 28 2019 on Unissu
Slovak PropTech market has a number of promising players. Not to leave it in a hidden galaxy for us and the rest of the PropTech world, the goal of this article is to introduce the market in a structured view. Because it is evolving and I do not possess any magic glass ball, naturally, this snapshot cannot be exhaustive. However, I am convinced that it offers some interesting opportunities. Anyone who cares is welcome to fill possible gaps through feedback.
For the sake of clarity, I find it pertinent to work with the five PropTech categories used by PropTech House in its free e-book. In this article, I focus on Vol. 1 – Smart real estate, covering two categories: 1. Live & Work and 2. Manage & Operate, although the boundaries among all five categories are far from definite and instead, frequently blend together. In Vol. 2 I would like to introduce more developed FinTech and ConTech parts of Slovak real estate market, corresponding to categories 3. Finance & Invest, 4. Design & Build, 5. Market & Transact.
Vol. 1 – Smart real estate
1. Live and Work
I have already mentioned several players in smart real estate. For me, the current trends in this category are best grasped by HB Reavis with its Symbiosy concept of smart offices (B2B) and by more B2C oriented scale-up Domotron.
In smart home segment (B2C), competing complex solutions are offered mainly through Smarterhome by hascon which offers smart home solutions based on appliances of various brands. Among other brands, hascon is the official FIBARO distributor for Slovakia. FIBARO is a very innovative and successful Polish brand. HomeSystem offers it as well. Both companies, hascon and Homesystem are members of Z-Wave Alliance associating more than 600 various smart home brands and businesses. Antik Telecom has a different strategy of inventing and offering its own smart home product line. Simpler smart home solutions, typically without more extensive possibilities of choosing from different HW or SW are also being offered by traditional telecommunication operators, such as Magenta home by Telekom, Modern living by Slovanet, O2 Smart Box by O2, or by gas and electricity suppliers, such as SPP smart home or Intelligent household offered by ZSE.
As regards smart offices and smart buildings I feel it necessary to highlight a start-up by name of Biotron. The company provides collection of data from various sources of its customers and adds sophisticated automated analysis of the collected data. Then, based on the analysis proceeds further with actions and decisions which can also be related to smart offices. Biotron won CESAward for being the best new start-up of 2018. I am looking forward to seeing Biotron at Green-Tech session during SlovakiaTech in Kosice on 9 October 2019.
Another successful start-up, eDocu – winner of the Central European Start-Up Awards as best IoT start-up in Slovakia of 2017 and 2018, also provides various smart company solutions. eDocu has been a partner of ASSECO Group since 2014. Asseco Central Europe is the second biggest software house in Slovakia with more than 600 IT developers under its roof. OMS, originally the biggest Slovak producer and developer of lights and lighting systems, has in recent years developed and now offers quite an impressive smart product line including smart offices, smart exhibition stands or smart classrooms. When talking about smart exhibition stands, OMS had a very impressive one at URBIS Smart City Fair in Brno in June this year. It was 400 square meters and epitomised its complex smart city offer by the name of CitySys. But smart city is a bit more complex category than smart office or smart building.
When talking about smart real estate, we should not omit the part where the real estate owner is a city, a town, a village or another public authority. Many other players are willing to be involved in the development of this real estate part. Together, these players represent rather impressive technological potential that could be capitalized on in other PropTech categories as well.
When talking about smart real estate, we should not omit the part where the real estate owner is a city, a town, a village or another public authority.
I must mention two associations able to deliver integrated smart city solutions in Slovakia that can serve as inspiration for other buildings, cities or countries. Necessary to add that creating consortiums is often a precondition for funding smart solutions, especially when the funding is public (e.g. Horizon 2020 plans to open a third call with 55 mil. budget on 3 September 2020 for Smart Cities and Communities and again, with this precondition).
The first association I am about to highlight has a Slovak name of Chcem smart mesto which means “I want Smart city”. It comprises seven inspirational players with scalable smart offerings that together cover various smart city features. Five of them are Slovak-based, two are Czech-based.
1. Waste management company Sensoneo with solutions that won several prestigious Start-Up competitions including PropTech Start-Up Europe 2018 Award or Smart territory digital challenges 2019 in the Innovation World Cup Series.
2. Sygic has been developing and providing smart mobile navigation, fleet and parking solutions for several years already and has a portfolio of around 200 million users worldwide.
3. Seak brings smart lightning solutions in a number of European countries as well as Israel and India.
4. Gospace has invented smart parking IoT solutions that are provided in more than 22 countries.
5. ParkDots is a smart parking and fintech solution by PosAm that was included among the world’s top solutions during the 8th Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona in 2018.
6. Smart city integrating platform in this association is provided by a Czech innovator Invipo, the winner of Intertraffic Innovation Awards 2016 and Smart City Service Awards 2017.
7. Analyses based on advanced algorithms of machine learning from data gathered from all smart metering sensors are safeguarded by another Czech innovator, Microft Mind.
The second association by name of Slovak Smart City Cluster (SSCC) is more complex and bets on a functioning triangle of collaboration among all smart city stakeholders – entrepreneurs, cities and other parties such as universities and other supporting and non-profit organisations. SSCC is composed of 21 members, including twelve larger Slovak enterprises. Majority of them work with core participation of foreign capital, though a few are purely Slovak. Members include four Slovak cities, three universities, one local incubator and one foreign agency. The twelve companies are SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC SLOVAKIA, Atos IT Solutions and Services , innogySolutions, Slovanet, KOOR, FIN.M.O.S., Cisco Systems Slovakia, KEDROS, Engie Services, ZSE, Sensus Slovensko, OMS. (F)ITcubator, n.o. is a non-profit organisation that was originally established for support and development of young talented IT people from the region below High Tatra Mountains. Recently, it received funding from European Social fund for project “Smart concepts in management of local and regional development” of the regional city of Trenčín. One of its five founding partners, mvi, develops and integrates IT systems, internet portals and smart mobile applications for hotels, cities/tourism, schools and energy. KOTRA is Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, which is important in Slovakia, because a few of global Korean companies, such as KIA and Samsung with dozens of their suppliers have heavily invested in their industrial parks in Slovakia. Smart cities have a big potential of either creating even more effective conditions for supplying their inputs or becoming buyers of their technologies.
Only four cities are members of SSCC, though further eight cities and municipalities are members of Smart Cities Klub (SCU) association that has signed a memorandum on cooperation with SSCC. SCU also cooperates with other smart city associations, including two Scandinavian, and many state authorities. The vast majority of Slovak cities and smaller municipalities are not members of these associations. Their only co-ordinating association is Association of Cities and Municipalities of Slovakia (ZMOS) or none. The regional city of Nitra has an original smart city strategy based on open participation of its citizens and other stakeholders. Last year, the capital city of Bratislava approved its Concept of Smart City Bratislava 2030 as well.
2. Manage & Operate
This category of Slovak PropTech market is relatively stable. I noticed two start-ups in recent years in B2B segment. The first one has been eDocu with its smart company product line including asset and facility management. The second start-up is Verde Group that provides automation in management and operation of property based on smart platform Ausemio. Other players with their asset, facility, and property management platforms have been present here for much longer time, including the Czech provider Alstanet. However, new automated IoT solutions have recently been developed by some of them. eNGIE introduced a complex automated smart metering and operation solution based on various IoT networks and its analytical software C3NTINEL encompasses advanced machine learning algorithms. eIoT consortium of companies Chastia, Koor and AmiNet was created with the purpose to provide another IoT solution leading to more efficient facility and energy management. Further stable players are present in B2C segment focused on management and operation of flats and blocks of flats. One of the most innovative companies in this segment is Anasoft which has come up with an advanced system Domus. With regard to other players I see a greater deal of opportunities for innovation as majority of Slovak families live in blocks of flats.
Here is a highlight of four upcoming events connected with smart real estate:
1. Trend conference Smart City 2019 on 24 September 2019 in Bratislava.
2. International SlovakiaTech Forum and Expo on 8-10 October 2019 in Kulturpark Košice.
3. The program and dynamics of the 5th Annual Smart Workspace Design Summit & Expo 2019 on 17-18 October 2019 in Amsterdam seem very attractive. Although it is not in my conference calendar this year, I must admit that I would love to read about experiences from this event or its site visits. The opportunity to meet there facility manager from Burj Khalifa, or head of smart workspace from LEGO or vice-president from Cirque du Soleil seem very promising. This event is organised by a Slovak-based company Fleming trainings.
4. ITAPA – the biggest international congress in Slovakia devoted to IT in public administration including artificial intelligence, smart cities and regions, cybersecurity, eGovernment, effective public administration, smart healthcare. It is held annually in autumn (this year on 12-13 November) with partnership of the biggest IT Partners of public sector in Slovakia. ITAPA has a spring edition as well.
Conference Building of Smart Cities and Regions already took place on 18 June, with further important smart city players to be seen there. For example Finnish-Slovak company Solved introduced its international platform for wide virtual co-operation of various smart city experts. JRK Slovensko introduced smart waste monitoring solution which records waste in every household, and the previously-mentioned CvikerAR introduced its augmented reality platform as a smart communication tool of cities with its citizens.
To sum up, there are around 51 active technological companies in Slovak smart real estate. Majority, around 28 are purely B2B oriented, 19 focus on both B2B and B2C, and only four are purely B2C oriented. It is up for discussion how many of them are true PropTech players that bring digital transformation to the Slovak real estate market and how many of them provide just digitalization or just digitization of some traditional real estate services. For now, I am happy to write that they all are ready to add value that was not here before their digital services had come.