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Start-ups are playing a crucial role in the development of the occupancy analytics, explains the latest report from Memoori: Occupancy Analytics & In-Building Location Based Services 2017 to 2022. The report comprehensively explored mergers and acquisitions, venture capital funding, in addition to partnerships and ecosystems, to provide an in-depth of the market as a whole.

“Recent partnerships illustrate the role of startups and demonstrate the significance of the main players establishing relationships with other stakeholders outside their domain of expertise to deliver unified intelligent building solutions,” the report states.

The recent history of deals show that established players in the connected lighting, building automation, facilities management, real estate services and IT sectors are seeking alliances with startup companies and specialist providers. Their aim is to implement successful solutions and achieve the full potential of smart buildings.

“Selecting the right set of partners will be crucial to deliver on the promise of end-to-end solutions,” warns the report. “The partnerships mentioned in this chapter are indicative of ongoing occupancy and location based initiatives for commercial office space, but these are only a fraction of the complex web of relationships being developed by the major BIoT providers.”

Acquisitions have also played a significant role in consolidating the market and raising the quality of occupancy analytics offerings. Occupancy data acts as a base for many applications in the smart building space, and acquisitions of occupancy analytics start-ups has been popular with organisations who aim to provide a broad portfolio of services to commercial real estate (CRE).

Facilities management software-as-a-service (SaaS) firms and CRE service companies currently lead the market in acquiring workspace solutions, according to the report. “With 23 acquisitions since 2010, accounting for around 52% of the total number of deals on our listing, Workspace Management and IWMS platforms have been at the forefront of ownership changes during the last 7 years as software and service firms extend their portfolios with broader converged solutions,” the report reads.

This clear trend includes a wide variety of SaaS companies such as Accruent, Yardi, MRI Software, Condeco and RedstoneConnect. Whilst major real estate service firms, such as CBRE and JLL have followed suit by acquiring in-house software and technology to reinforce their third-party service offerings.

The report predicts that, “acquisitions and strategic partnerships will continue at a rapid rate in the near future as workspace management platforms and technology play a crucial role in the drive to establish human-centred workplaces for building occupants and more efficient operations for facility owners and operators.”

Slightly more surprising perhaps, is the significant interest in occupancy analytics shown by lighting firms. Of the 44 acquisitions tracked by Memoori since 2010, 17 of those deals, almost 40%, come from the connected lighting sector. The largest lighting – occupancy deal being the $252m that Acuity Brands paid for, Quebec-based energy management and building controls firm, Distech Controls in March 2015. The same year, Acuity acquired ByteLight, giving them a foothold in the retail analytics business, a technology they now hope to apply to commercial offices.

“Acuity Brands are one of a select group of firms, including Enlighted, who typify the recent cultural shift in lighting. They have already launched some compelling offerings for the commercial office sector in recent months,” the report points out – no doubt referring to Atrius Spaces announced in August 2017 and Distech Controls ECLYPSE connected controller series announced in Nov 2017. Both offerings provide location-based occupant services and space optimization.

Other notable connected lighting acquisitions include Commscope’s purchase of Redwood Systems for $22.2m in July 2013 and Current powered by GE’s acquisition of Daintree Networks for $77m in April 2016. In fact, during Current’s spin off from GE the firm stated their goal to develop a scalable cloud-based energy management and facilities optimization platform for all commercial buildings – a goal shared by a number of firms from in and out of the lighting sector.

“With connected lighting platforms in a strong position to support occupancy analytics and location-based services, we expect lighting based acquisitions to continue to play a large part in the development of solutions in this sector,” predicts the comprehensive report. The occupancy analytics & in-building location based services market is full of potential and rapidly evolving, transactions happening in this space play a significant role in the future of the smart commercial buildings market.

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