Smart Buildings

Chinese Startups Addressing Digital Workplace Solutions for Commercial Real Estate

The digital workplace sector is a rapidly evolving market opportunity within commercial real estate. The market is in the early stages of maturity, having seen considerable activity over the past two years accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our new Digital Workplace report published this year forecasts that the the Asia region will enjoy the most impressive rise in digital workplace revenues over the forecast period (2021-2026), with predicted growth of 24.4% CAGR. Five Chinese startup companies supplying workplace experience and occupancy analytics solutions in office buildings are included in our analysis and highlighted in this research note - 9am, DFocus, Kuban, SpacesForce and En-Trak. Beijing-based 9am is a workplace digitalization player, founded in 2015 with 53 employees. Focused on human detection sensors and AIoT technology, the company provides corporate solutions for spatial analysis, which lead to data-driven workplace strategies as well as a healthy and efficient working experience. 9am Tesseract integrates cloud computing, big data and AIoT, providing a space sensing […]

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The digital workplace sector is a rapidly evolving market opportunity within commercial real estate. The market is in the early stages of maturity, having seen considerable activity over the past two years accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our new Digital Workplace report published this year forecasts that the the Asia region will enjoy the most impressive rise in digital workplace revenues over the forecast period (2021-2026), with predicted growth of 24.4% CAGR.

Five Chinese startup companies supplying workplace experience and occupancy analytics solutions in office buildings are included in our analysis and highlighted in this research note - 9am, DFocus, Kuban, SpacesForce and En-Trak.

Beijing-based 9am is a workplace digitalization player, founded in 2015 with 53 employees. Focused on human detection sensors and AIoT technology, the company provides corporate solutions for spatial analysis, which lead to data-driven workplace strategies as well as a healthy and efficient working experience. 9am Tesseract integrates cloud computing, big data and AIoT, providing a space sensing and analysis platform that covers many workplace scenarios. 9am has built a global service and supply chain system covering 12 countries and regions, helping more than 1,600 office spaces realize digital upgrades.

The company completed a Series B round in February 2019 which was funded by Loctek Ergonomic Technology Corporation. After this series of financing, the market value of 9am was increased to RMB 200 million (USD 31.5 million).  A Series B+ round in June 2019 was backed by Lantuo Capital. Current clients include Swiss Re, Siemens Healthineers, Bosch, BMW, Standard Chartered, Walmart, Woods Bagot, The Executive Centre, JD.COM, MI, CICC, Hony Capital, Tsinghua University, HNA, Pony.ai, Wework Shanghai, Sony  and Morgan Stanley.

Shanghai DFocus Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company with more than 120 employees, providing IoT services for the real estate industry, focusing on smart space and smart building management.  With its headquarters in Shanghai and branch companies in Beijing and Shenzhen, DFocus provides services to over 200 large companies at home and abroad.  DFocus helps organizations maximize the utilization of all space resources and assets within an integrated IoT smart platform where information can be visualized and measured. The solutions enable executives to manage Real Estate portfolio and smart buildings with data informed decisions, reduced costs and increasing business productivity. 

The company completed a Series A financing round in January 2019, funded by K2VC and Ameba Capital. Clients include nearly 100 Fortune Global 500 companies, such as Huawei, China Merchants Bank, Alibaba, Porsche, Starbucks, and Budweiser. DFocus is also in strategic cooperation with Microsoft, Huawei, Tongji University Infrastructure Management Institute, BOMA, CoreNet and Gensler, to establish and promote operational standards and practices for the industry.

Kuban, based in Shaghai, was established in 2016 developing IoT software and hardware-based smart office solutions, including workstation management, meeting management, visitor management and asset management systems. These solutions help clients transform from fixed to flexible workplace solutions.

The company has partnered with Lenovo and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). Clients include CapitaLand Limited, Sino Ocean, China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd, Fun Work, Spaceyun, Mayland, UBP, Longfor, Landsea, Thinkool, Wedo and Huo King.

SpacesForce is a SaaS-based IoT technology platform for smart and connected real estate. Their holistic software-hardware solution enables real estate managers and enterprise organizations to create smart and flexible office environments with an effective and mobile-first experience. Established at the beginning of 2018, and operating out of Chengdu, China, SpacesForce has already deployed 1.2 million square feet of space, providing service to technology campuses, office buildings and other coworking brands across multiple cities (Guiyang, Suzhou, Beijing, Chengdu).

En-trak Hong Kong Limited is a Proptech startup backed by Alibaba and CLP. Founded in 2013, their solutions are used by hundreds of world-class clients in Asia including Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Keppel Land, Sino Group, English Schools Foundation, Hong KongConvention Centre and more.

In March 2019, En-trak launched their Tenant Experience Platform which helps building owners enhance the value of their assets and improve NOI by enabling building occupants to control and personalize their workplace A/C and lighting through a mobile app, thus eliminating energy wastage and elevating tenants’ comfort and satisfaction. En-trak Tenant Experience is built with an open API. This allows landlords or tenants to integrate air conditioning and lighting operations with other 3rd party applications such as access control, room booking systems, or lighting control systems. This app can be connected to any existing central air conditioning system, making its application more widely and readily available. This platform has gone live in Hong Kong, Singapore, several major cities in China, Indonesia and has recently launched in Thailand.

We believe that these five companies are significant local startups in the Chinese digital workplace space, with strong potential for further growth.

This article was written by Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori.

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