OMERS’ real estate arm awards prizes for disruption in commercial real estate

Oxford Properties Group, the real estate investment arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, announced the winners of its global Hackathon competition, which awards prizes to innovators for their work to disrupt the design and construction process of commercial real estate.

As real estate has proven to be an increasingly important asset class for pension plans, delving into new trends in how space is used and how it’s constructed is key to ensuring the group allocates its capital optimally, says Dean Hopkins, chief operations officer at Oxford Properties Group.

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“When we think about Oxford and trying to figure out where to invest capital in the right buildings, in the right markets, we realized we need to be thoughtful about the direction . . .  in every sector of real estate to make sure we’re staying current,” he says.

The Hackathon provides 500 entrants with 48 hours to tackle pressing issues in commercial real estate development. Across four global events, the participants were divided into 50 teams, with 12 teams awarded a cash prize.

“It’s an industry that for a long time did not change,” says Hopkins. “But we’re now entering a phase where it is actually starting for the first time to be disrupted or changed by innovators who are realizing it’s a multi-trillion dollar in industry in this world and it is, as yet, undisrupted.”

Read: Canadian pension funds welcome proposed tax changes on U.S. real estate investments 

The third annual Hackathon was the first time it was expanded to include cities outside North America.

“This is the first time we’ve truly tried to do it globally to reflect the fact that Oxford is a global company in real estate. . . . We realized that innovations happen not just in Silicon Valley, not just in Toronto, they happen everywhere in the world.”

This article originally appeared on Benefits Canada‘s companion site, the Canadian Investment Review.

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