Investing in technology to meet the needs of tomorrow
JLL Spark adds the first New Zealand firm to its global portfolio - Re-Leased, a cloud-based accounting business that started in Hawke's Bay.
In creating this magazine, we asked each interviewee what sets us apart from our competitors. Their answers carried an overarching theme of technology. Comments such as “technology-first” and “ahead of the curve” are not just bandied about, we pride ourselves on putting them into action, every day.
Embracing technology to meet the needs of today and opportunities of tomorrow is a core part of JLL’s DNA. From backing female-founded start-ups, EliseAI (formerly Meet Elise) and Aunt Flow, to New Zealand cloud-based property management software, Re-Leased, our focus on property technology (PropTech) is a true differentiator.
A history of innovation
In 2019, we announced the formation of JLL Technologies, a new business sector that would align and expand its technology and digital initiatives. At its helm, Silicon Valley veterans Mihir Shah and Yishai Lerner have unified these initiatives to create a single business division, accelerating innovation in commercial real estate for its clients. However, in line with an always-on, future-thinking ethos, progress was put into practice even before this with the creation of JLL Spark back in 2017.
JLL Spark, a global venture fund, was created to invest in and grow early-stage technology companies that are transforming the future of commercial real estate through disruptive hardware and software advancements. Since mid-2018, JLL Spark has invested over $340 million in more than 40 early stage PropTech start-ups.
“JLL Spark focuses on leveraging technology to improve everything from real estate development and management to leasing and investing,” explains Carolyn Trickett, JLL Spark Growth Principal, Asia Pacific. The division’s strategic PropTech ventures offer JLL the ability to provide pioneering products to real estate owners and operators.
We believe a data-driven, technology-first approach will be increasingly key to building value for clients and shareholders - and there is a massive opportunity to achieve better outcomes for all who embrace it.
“JLL is a market leader in real estate technology. We’re not just using technology to deliver services to our clients, we are also building, partnering and investing in it,” says Trickett.
“At JLL Spark, we look for novel technology solutions to age-old problems in commercial property.”
Yishai Lerner, Co-CEO of JLL Technologies
Here’s what’s making waves in technology right now.
The past 24 months have highlighted the need for cutting-edge technology more than ever. In line with a massive shift in workplace culture, many employers have adopted varying versions of remote or hybrid work models. As a result, employers are keen to increase productivity with tech-based solutions to draw employees back into the office.
“There’s been an emphasis on products that help monitor and analyse occupancy patterns to help organisations manage the return to work proactively and curate better experiences for their staff,” says Trickett.
An example of this is JLL Spark’s investment in VergeSense – a spatial intelligence and insights platform that enables workplaces to continuously optimise spaces for experience and cost. With the rise in hybrid working and expectation of employee flexibility, use of the workplace has become completely unpredictable.
For real estate leaders to effectively manage this challenge and serve today’s employees, VergeSense utilises anonymous and contextualised data to fully understand physical space and how people are using it in real-time. “Uptake has been especially successful in the past few years as their sensors enable the monitoring and management of employees returning to work and ongoing occupancy optimisation.”
Tenant-oriented platforms will continue to be integral, predicts Trickett. “JLL has invested in a few companies within this space, including HqO and Livly, which are increasingly becoming not just a nice-to-have but a necessity.”
More recently, the focus has shifted towards sustainability. “We’re observing surging demand for products that help organisations meet their environmental targets by measuring and managing energy consumption and producing more earth-friendly construction materials and methods.” JLL Spark’s funding in this sector includes Turntide – a breakthrough platform that can reduce energy consumption by up to 64 percent.
A New Zealand first
In early 2022, JLL Spark invested in Re-Leased, leading a US$15 million funding round to support international expansion and new product development.
Marking the first New Zealand brand in JLL Spark’s portfolio, the automated software—designed for commercial, industrial, and office real estate—was a natural investment.
“Re-Leased’s cloud-native software is disrupting the status quo and revolutionising the way its customers run their businesses,” says Trickett.
“We are confident in the platform’s potential to push the envelope of digital transformation for the sector and look forward to supporting its global growth.”
Re-Leased’s software integrates many of the biggest names in cloud-based financial software including Xero, QuickBooks, Sage and Stripe.
Chief Executive of Re-Leased, Tom Wallace, says, “JLL Spark’s backing validates our vision and the platform we’ve built.”
Since its launch in 2013, Re-Leased’s team has grown to more than 150, with offices in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“Having a global brand like JLL on board when expanding into new markets where our brand is lesser known, like the USA, has been instrumental,” he adds.
The technology behind each investment may be complex but the concept is always simple: to increase the value of buildings while enhancing the productivity of those who occupy them.
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $19.4 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 102,000 as of June 30, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.