Arup London Tech Week event explores innovation and opportunity within the built environment startup ecosystem

Felix Keser Felix Keser Graduate Consultant, Integrated City Planning,London
15 July 2019

Arup’s Ventures team recently hosted a London Tech Week event in collaboration with URBAN-X, a startup accelerator based in New York City, to explore how startups and incumbent organisations can better work together to shape the future of the built environment.

Startup founders, Arup staff, venture capital investors and large organisations in the real estate, transport and construction industries came together to discuss the most promising solutions and partnership models that could address the challenges our cities will face in the coming decades.

The event offered advice for startups on overcoming key barriers to funding trials and bringing products to market, and guidance for large incumbents on becoming more engaged with startups that are providing innovative solutions. This inaugural event is the first in a series of talks and workshops that will be hosted by the Ventures team.

Ian Rogers, Arup Ventures Global Leader and Head of Intellectual Property and Technology Law, hosted a panel discussion on the most pressing challenges facing the built environment.

During the panel, Michael Hurwitz, Director of Innovation at TfL, noted the importance of creating a lean environment that supports piloting and open trials in order to facilitate routes to market for the most promising products. Raphael Scheps, Founder and CEO of Converge, argued that finding true product market fit relies on a deep understanding of the market in which one operates.

Fundamentally, what city do you want to create? And what gives the best customer experience in a safe and environmentally-friendly way? ” Michael Hurwitz Michael Hurwitz Innovation Director, Transport for London

conference in progress conference in progress
Arup’s Ventures team recently hosted a London Tech Week event in collaboration with URBAN-X

Meanwhile Elspeth Finch, co-founder of IAND and ex-Atkins Innovation Director, highlighted the importance of human centric design, while Raya Yunakova, Investment Manager at proptech investor Pilabs, described the need for constant iteration to drive product-market fit.

Sometimes we get lost in the tech […] and forget about the economic value of place. For me, a city is human and I want to retain that humanity. ” Elspeth Finch Elspeth Finch MBE, Co-founder and CEO, IAND

Some of the most exciting investments made to date from Arup Ventures have included a geothermal joint venture company named Geon, an innovative noise-cancelling window called ‘SoftTone’, and the team’s first ‘equity in lieu of fee’ deal with electric charging company ‘Charge’ that is installing scooter and bicycle charging stations in cities across the US.

Many of the innovations that come out of our Ventures pipeline have been developed by Arup staff during their time in the company or after they have gone out to develop their venture full time. We pride ourselves in being a company that challenges the status quo and supports our co-workers to develop solutions to tackle the world’s most complex and challenging issues. ” Ian Rogers Ian Rogers Head of Intellectual Property and Technology Law, Leader Arup Ventures