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MIT Looks to Create ‘Davos-like’ Experience with Upcoming World Real Estate Forum

April 28, 2017 - By Mike Hoban

Cambridge– The ongoing trend towards urbanization, combined with revolutionary advances in digital technology and massive innovation in the built environment, have created enormous opportunities – and challenges – for the global real estate industry. To help make sense of this rapidly evolving landscape, the MIT Center for Real Estate will once again host its World Real Estate Forum (May 18-19 at the MIT Media Lab), which will bring together MIT faculty and researchers with industry thought leaders from more than 20 countries to create what MIT/CRE director Albert Saiz hopes will be a “Davos-like conference.”

“There’s still not a leading think tank environment for people to discuss what is going to happen to the global real estate industry from the perspectives of construction, master planning, design, global markets, finance, and marketing trends,” says Saiz. “What we at the MIT Center for Real Estate are striving to do is to be a convening point, to create a network of enlightened leaders in the industry who are then going to change the industry for the greater good.”

The conference will open with a discussion of 4D printing (where the fourth dimension is time) by keynote speaker Skylar Tibbits, co-director and founder of the MIT Self-Assembly Lab, before turning the focus to the development opportunities in the growth markets of Latin America, Africa and India. The opening day will also feature a panel discussion on “Debt, Equity and Innovation: How Global Capital Influences Future Development,” featuring industry luminaries from around the globe such as Christina Gaw, managing principal and head of capital markets for Gaw Capital, and Rodrigo Nino of the Prodigy Network, which has raised over $424 million via crowdfunding (beginning with investments as low as $10,000) from investors in 28 different countries, for a portfolio with an estimated market value of $750 million.

Day two will feature a session on the next century of global city building and the impact of innovation and technology on the built environment, with the afternoon dedicated to “The Edge Sessions”, which has been described as a version of MIT-CRE’s “Real Disruption” series (see related story) “on steroids”. Presented by presented by MIT faculty and researchers, the “sessions” tracks will explore the cutting edge research related to innovation, technology, and the future of the global real estate industry, with topics such as the autonomous future of real estate and the cyber security of buildings.

“We hope to learn from each other,” says Saiz of the upcoming conference. “We put out the big ideas of the future from the academic perspective, but we hope to learn from the entrepreneurs and the CEOs whether these ideas are actually going to be deployed or if they could be deployed better.”

Albert Saiz