JLL Spark’s Investment Themes
Investing intelligently in technologies to transform the real estate industry for a better future
At JLL Spark Global Ventures, we believe no single company can deliver all the innovations to meet the volatile requirements of today’s clients. JLL is committed to transforming the real estate industry globally through technology-based innovations, and JLL Spark invests and partners with the brightest technology startups that share our vision and values.
Currently, JLL Spark sources more than 1000 property technology (PropTech) investment opportunities annually and conducts due diligence on about 5% of these. JLL Spark looks to leverage technology to improve everything from real estate development and management to leasing and investing, while enhancing the experience of those who occupy commercial spaces.
Led by Managing Partner Raj Singh, the JLL Spark team focuses on five investment themes most relevant to JLL clients and the real estate industry, identified through client demand and adoption trends:
- Construction technology – Building a better, safer, and more productive world
- Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) – Decarbonizing the built world
- Smart buildings – Delivering superior returns, useability, and impact
- Future of work – Reimagining the occupier relationship to their building
- Financial technology – Modernizing the economics of commercial real estate
The theory behind the investment themes
JLL Spark’s investment themes were chosen based on growth trajectory as well as JLL’s ability to drive value. “These themes are all benefitting from strong tailwinds. There is so much opportunity in these spaces for further innovation and value creation for the commercial real estate industry.” says Kitty Sullivan, investment principal at JLL Spark.
ESG – Decarbonizing the built world
Sustainability tops the agenda for JLL and its clients. JLL is committed to reaching net zero goals for our clients’ and JLL-owned assets and properties by 2040. As government regulations increase, the urgency to achieve sustainability has prompted real estate owners, operators, and occupiers to reduce their carbon footprint.
JLL Spark has invested in several startups that advance sustainability in the built world including ecoworks for digitizing and industrializing the renovation process; Juno, a mass timber building system to create sustainable homes; and Turntide for sustainable operations and electrification solutions to improve energy efficiency in buildings, commercial vehicles, and agriculture.
Construction Technology – Building a better, safer, and more productive world
Construction carries the most potential for improvement with a huge scope for innovation and technology use, which JLL could represent through its project and development services. Despite being a multitrillion dollar industry, it is far less digitized than other real estate sectors.
JLL Spark invests in construction technology (ConTech) startups such as OpenSpace, an AI-powered construction platform that provides a 360° visual representation of the construction site to capture and analyze data.
Smart buildings – Delivering superior returns, useability, and impact
The real estate industry demands technology solutions that improve building efficiency. This investment theme reflects the increased adoption of technology to automate building operations, improving the experience of occupiers, tenants, and visitors, while landlords benefit from the enhanced value of their assets.
JLL Spark has several investments in smart building technology. VergeSense, a platform that provides contextualized insights into how spaces are used, empowers companies to continuously optimize their workplaces. Ecolibrium and Infogrid are IoT platforms that provide predictive insights for preventative maintenance and occupancy planning with data-driven insights.
Future of work – Reimagining the occupier relationship to their building
The pandemic accelerated conversations relating to remote and hybrid working. As companies develop their return to office strategies, it is growing clear that the use of office space will never be the same. Developers, owners, and occupiers are looking for technologies to optimize workforce performance and enhance collaboration in the hybrid work environment.
SwiftConnect is an example of JLL Spark’s investment in technology for the future of work. The solution offers automated access control and booking systems, converting physical offices to function as a network by providing data to employees on demand.
Financial Technology – Modernizing the economics of commercial real estate
JLL Spark invests in financial technology (FinTech) to facilitate seamless transactions with increased efficiency and transparency. As business dynamics evolve, tenants and occupiers have the option to move according to their needs with solutions that remove limitations.
Lev, a FinTech solution in JLL Spark’s portfolio, is a digital commercial real estate (CRE) platform offering direct access to capital from leading financial institutions. Its technology alleviates the industry’s manual lending process, closing CRE loans up to three times faster than existing methods.
Emerging areas for JLL Spark investments
The pandemic triggered huge disruptions to logistics and supply chains worldwide. The inadequate infrastructure struggles to handle the ever-rising demand. However, companies that leverage technologies and adopt new business models improved their resilience.
Data is another area on JLL Spark’s radar, but the large amounts of available data are dark, siloed, and unstructured. Once organized, however, data becomes a powerful advantage to various real estate verticals, including sustainability, construction, occupancy planning, talent retention, building management systems, and more.
Where are we heading
JLL Spark has invested over $340 million across 40+ PropTech startups since June 2018. Over 60% of JLL’s top investor and occupier clients use a JLL Spark portfolio company solution.
JLL Spark as a PropTech investor offers flexibility, exploring opportunities in startup companies that introduce innovative technologies to the real estate industry. JLL understands that serving its clients requires us to be both tech-forward and resilient; JLL Spark participates by sourcing external innovation that can benefit our clients today as well as prepare them for tomorrow.