Recap: ULI Greece & Cyprus Annual Conference 2019

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) National Council for Greece & Cyprus held its inaugural annual conference at the Grand Hyatt Athens on Wednesday, 27 March 2019, bringing together more than 100 professionals from various disciplines of the Greek real estate industry including investors, financiers, lawyers, architects, valuers, and real estate consultants. 

The title of the conference was “Real Estate 4.0”, to reflect what is being labeled ‘The fourth industrial revolution’. The conference explored the impact of cyber-physical systems on the real estate sector, which has traditionally been seen as a slow adopter of technology. Through its established international network of real estate leaders, ULI brought together an extraordinary array of industry experts who discussed new concepts and business models, as well as sharing best practice from around the world with those involved in the Greek property industry.

The opening keynote speaker Sharon Landes-Fischer (Director of Strategy, Tel Aviv Global), highlighted Tel Aviv’s experience of positioning “smart” cities through synergizing of its tourist attractions and business offers. Tel Aviv has been recognized as one the world’s smartest cities, taking advantage of its flourishing Startup Ecosystem to improve the overall tourism experience. This session discussed the ubiquitous charm of the city playing on modernity, youth, and its IT potential and she summed up her talk by saying: “We are a nation of dare – we are not afraid to fail. And this is the cornerstone of our philosophy”.

The session was followed by three panel discussions focusing on each of the new economies: the ‘Sharing Economy’; the ‘Experience Economy’ and the ‘Innovation Economy’.

Eri Mitsostergiou (Member of the Executive Committee, ULI Greece & Cyprus and Director of European Research at Savills) moderated the first panel looking at whether sharing working and living space is what millennials want. The expert panelists included Christos Misailidis (CEO, Asia Pacific & Middle East, IWG), Ed Bouterse (Head of Workthere NL, Savills), Filippos Zakopoulos (Managing Partner, Found.ation) whom all agreed that the younger generations are prioritising the ‘experience’ and they don’t find ownership as important as the older generations.

Moreover, the panel focused on the fact that technology changes the whole mentality of how we live. Real estate around the world, is being shaped by a set of values which are brought into prominence by younger generations and, in particular, collaboration, connecting and sharing are affecting every aspect of property. The panel discussed examples of business models that have emerged from the growth of the sharing economy, the importance of flexibility and service in real estate, and the transformation of workspace through co-working models.

Ioannis Orfanos (Member of the Executive Committee, ULI Greece & Cyprus and Partner at Arbitrage Real Estate) first presented about the experience economy and its importance to commercial real estate. He then moderated a very insightful panel discussion with Johannes Menge, Development Director at Zoku, Frank Uffen, Director of Partnerships at The Student Hotel and Igor Sancisi, Partner and Head of Concepts & Planning at Grayfield on the experience economy. The discussion focused on real estate development and hospitality concepts offering special experiences that customers and tenants are willing to pay a premium for. The speakers agreed that real estate (re)development opportunities exist in creative and mixed-used concepts that invest in tenant experiences and that an entrepreneurial spirit needs to be reactivated. 

The Chair of ULI Greece & Cyprus, Tassos Kotzanastassis (Managing Director at 8GCP) moderated the final session on ‘Innovation Economy’. Anne-Claire Barberi (Innovation Manager, Immowell Lab), Florian Kuhlmann (Founder & CTO, Leverton) and Menelaos Ioannidis (CTO, LightsourceBP Labs) were involved in a lively discussion on how artificial intelligence, big data, clean tech, and wellness are transforming our sector. The key message was that innovation is a one-way street. People who shun innovation, do so at their peril. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’. Furthermore, the final message that emanated from the panel was the emphasis on the tremendous opportunities available to the real estate industry.

The conference was generously sponsored by Hines, Potamitisvekris, Eurobank Ergasias SA, 8G Capital Partners, Dolphin Capital Partners and Arbitrage Real Estate Advisors.

Photos from the event can be found on the ULI Europe Flickr page.

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