Innovation in Real Estate: An Entrepreneurial Perspective

Presenting at MIT's Innovation in Real Estate Conference

Presenting at MIT’s Innovation in Real Estate Conference

I recently participated in the Innovation in Real Estate Conference at MIT, held at the MIT Media Lab. (If you don’t know the Media Lab at MIT, it is a magical place from the moment you step foot in the building. Art, Engineering Disciplines and Business are integrated into a place where creativity is encouraged and interdisciplinary work is the norm. I love it there!)

At the conference, a team from our summer GFSA Accelerator Program asked me to participate on a panel about the role real estate plays in innovation. Real Estate is essential in setting the right structure for an organization. For both businesses and institutions, space is often at a premium and you need ensure you use it wisely. This led me to think about the space we have at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship that houses the Accelerator program, and also the role of real estate and the workplace of the future in three of the start-ups recently launched.

MIT’s Martin Trust Center Expands to accommodate more Accelerator Teams

At the Martin Trust Center, we have an open area that also has conference rooms, phone rooms to make calls all over the world, office supplies and equipment … and all the coffee, Ramen Noodles, and oatmeal that students can eat! We are expanding our space, and with that expansion we hope to take in 50% more teams into the Accelerator. This is terrific news to the applicants where turned many teams away.

The Trust Center at MIT is a work space that is supported by mentors and staff who help enhance learning and enthusiasm. Speakers who present at the center are MIT faculty, community leaders, and practitioners. Both the space and the people at the center make it a vibrant place to work.

Why is the space special? It is a place where like-minded people can meet and share ideas, coffee, and work in a collaborative work space. It is also where some of the new ideas about what a workplace will look like in the future.

Workplaces of the Future

Real estate innovation also encompasses how spaces will be transformed to fit future needs. Four of the start-ups who were part of the Accelerator program look at space in a new and innovative ways.

Spyce is a healthy automated restaurant that fits into a 20 square foot area, Tekuma curates art for Airbnb’s unique places to stay (and our space as well!), Morphlab is another real estate related venture that brings robotic furniture to small spaces to increase functionality. And, finally Smarking addresses the real estate of parking spaces with an application that optimizes parking. These are just a few of the new projects that are bringing innovation to real estate.

The message at the conference came through loud and clear that innovation in real estate is here. On a personal note, I can tell you as we reconfigure our space at the Trust Center, optimization and utilization are important, but maintaining the collaborative and entrepreneurial culture is first and foremost.