Media Release

Drees & Sommer Innovation Forum: a Meeting of Two Worlds

© [Translate to English:] Drees & Sommer/ Aurelio Schrey

Steffen Szeidl, a member of the Executive Board of Drees & Sommer SE, began his welcome speech by addressing this year’s central topic of rapid change: ‘Digitization is certainly hugely accelerating the changes in society and the economy. But one of the secrets of successful entrepreneurship has always been to face profound change with a positive mindset, and ideally anticipate it. What makes a change management strategy successful, and what long-established companies in particular can do about digital transformation, is therefore the focus of our Innovation Forum.’

Interpreter Linking Two Worlds

The Management Board member drew particular attention to the afternoon program: Startups on Stage – New Business Models. He noted that it was precisely their loose, creative and adventurous approach that made startups, often founded by digital natives, the drivers of digitization. However, they often lacked specific sector expertise and found it hard to gain access to the market.

On the role that Drees & Sommer plays as a mediator between well-established companies and startups, Steffen Szeidl remarked: ‘In the construction and real estate sector, smart business models only work if they take into account the very complex planning, construction and operating requirements. This is precisely where we started our collaboration with startups, applying our in-depth knowledge. We invest a lot of time testing promising new business models to ensure they are practicable in the first place, then working with the young companies to adapt them to the requirements of our sector. When we connect startups with our business partners, we ensure that our clients’ construction projects benefit optimally from digital innovations.’

Inspiring People with a Positive Vision

In his keynote speech, future manager Dr. Pero Mićić, Member of the Management Board at FutureManagementGroup, considered the question: Where are we heading? An author, speaker and management consultant, Dr. Mićić founded Germany‘s first future management company in 1991 and since then has been advising the management teams of large corporations and leading small and medium-sized enterprises on how to identify opportunities in emerging markets early and develop intelligent future strategies. This involves adjusting their assumptions and then developing a vision, an orientation, and a strategy.

Dr. Mićić asked his audience: ‘Where are you heading? What is the vision on which all your projects and processes are based? Without a clear, motivating, robust vision, you cannot lead your team. Develop a robust orientation and vision and use them as your most powerful management tool.’

Special-Purpose Building for Digitization

Rupprecht Rittweger, CEO of e-shelter and Managing Partner of Investa Holding GmbH, then gave a talk entitled Change in Real Estate Management. He has successfully forecast many future developments and changed course in his own career: from project developer to data center developer and operator, to real estate technology (proptech) accelerator, who identifies and fosters startups that develop innovative technologies for the real estate sector.

He explained: ‘Data centers are special-purpose buildings for digitization. Not only do they provide a home for servers and routers for critical infrastructure and the Cloud, they also form part of the Sharing Economy. They achieve maximum efficiency through flexibility and scalability.’

Tackling the Entire Construction Process Holistically

The final talk of the afternoon, entitled Change for Architects, was given by Mark Bryden, Board Director and co-founder in 1995 of Bryden Wood, who was previously an architect at the internationally renowned architecture firm Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners. He began by explaining what motivated him to change careers: ‘I could see that the simplicity of architectural design clearly did not extend to the way a building was made and delivered, so when Martin Wood and I established Bryden Wood in 1995, it was to tackle the whole construction process, not just the result.’

He made specific reference to the Design For Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA) method, the aim of which is to adapt the design of a building to optimize the manufacturing and assembly processes. ‘This led us to engage with systemic construction issues such as the skills gap and productivity. As our brand of architecture and construction has become ever more manufacturing-driven, so the problems we are solving have become further reaching and more significant for the wider industry and the economy,’ Bryden Wood said.

Startups on Stage: Innovative Real Estate Solutions

In the afternoon, six new digital business models for real estate were examined. The session was started by Norman Meyer, Head of Digital Services at Drees & Sommer, who introduced the online tool Asset Check by Drees & Sommer and bulwiengesa. It provides an automated preliminary analysis of buildings. At, retail and public investors, owners, project developers or banks can obtain a fast, inexpensive, but also thorough and independent preliminary assessment at the touch of a button. He commented: ‘What is unique about Asset Check is the fact that it provides both market data and costs. Previously, these could only be obtained separately.

At the click of a mouse, Asset Check delivers, inter alia, data in the form of benchmarks on location, rents, spending power, and occupation, in addition to capital expenditure and operating expenditure.’

Blockchain and Smart Contracts Have Come to the World of Real Estate

Sascha M. Donner, co-founder and Head of Product at Evana AG, then explained how Evana uses artificial intelligence to analyze databases and documents. According to him, the rate of technical progress is currently so rapid that many of the technologies that today sound like science fiction will be an everyday reality in two to three years. He commented: ‘Artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart contracts will play an ever-greater role in the world of real estate in the next few years. I am firmly convinced that in the future it will be possible to buy and sell buildings almost as quickly as equities, by automated or semi-automated trading. But, despite all the euphoria, I hope the natural intelligence of the sector will survive for a while.’

Easy Access to Healthy and Sustainable Building Products

How digital business models and sustainability go hand in hand was demonstrated by a presentation on the Building Material Scout platform. Peter Mösle, Partner at Drees & Sommer SE, explained: ‘If you want a trendsetting building, you absolutely have to use only those building materials that are harmless, and ideally beneficial, to health. What’s more, buildings should ideally be constructed with recyclable materials and products that have positive chemical properties.’ To simplify this for building projects, Drees & Sommer is currently collaborating with HOINKA GmbH and SundaHus i Linköping AB on the online platform On this platform, information on the materials used in construction products is collected and structured, and made available as an aid for architects, planners, developers, investors, auditors, construction firms, and users and operators of properties. This will enable them to find non-toxic, sustainable building products with the minimum of effort and so help them to build healthy, sustainable buildings easily.

Bringing Buildings up to Date

Klaus Berberich, co-founder and Management Board Member at Thing Technologies then gave a presentation illustrating how the Thing-it app enables buildings to be operated digitally. He explained: ‘Tenants of office buildings want to provide a state-of-the-art environment that will motivate their staff and increase productivity. The concept of New Work focuses on collaboration and flexibility, optimizing the utilization of space and reducing energy costs. Operators are looking for usage-linked facility management and the possibility of building up a community around the building.

At Thing-it, we equip new and established buildings alike with a ‘brain’ that enables all this to happen. To do this, Thing-it integrates traditional building automation with new IoT devices, entry control systems and internet services. Users avail themselves of an intuitive app to communicate with each other, the building and the community around the building.’

LCM 2.0: Digital Lean Management on the Construction Site

The characteristics of professional project management approaches were explained by Patrick Theis, Partner at Drees & Sommer SE, who gave a presentation on the LCM Digital tool. He claimed that anyone wanting to implement construction projects successfully should use Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Lean Construction Management (LCM): ‘Until now, the two methods have never been linked. LCM Digital – an online collaborative production planning tool for the construction site which fully incorporates BIM – fills this gap. The tool makes it possible for daily progress controls to be carried out automatically in the BIM system on the basis of live data from the construction site. The activities of the construction site for the next few days or months are coordinated and steered online by the team on the basis of cycle planning.’

Precision 3D Mapping

Dr. Felix Reinshagen, a co-founder of Munich-based startup Navvis, outlined his company’s business model: ‘Our goal is to digitize all buildings and building-related processes. We have developed a kind of miniature Google car that generates extremely precise, photorealistic 3D models for properties in realtime. The related software processes and visualizes the data and maps the entire inside of the building in the browser. This enables measurements to be taken or plans to be exported to other tools in order to plan change processes. The building is navigated using the camera on a smartphone.’ Established in 2013, Navvis has developed a technology for indoor mapping and navigation. Its M3 Trolley is currently already mapping the interiors of large corporations, shopping centers and airports. It creates a precise virtual model with which warehouses can be remotely controlled and machines serviced with precision.