The recently-announced pilot partnership between Ordnance Survey (OS) and HM Land Registry (HMLR) that will see them join forces to back promising start-ups at the Geovation Hub in London is an eminently sensible move. The synergy between Property Technology (Prop-tech) and Geo-tech really makes it a no-brainer, and it’s not the first time that the organisations have collaborated to encourage innovation.
It’s also an auspicious moment to be working together, with Prop-tech fast emerging as yet another area of technology where the UK in general and London in particular is setting the pace thanks to its diversity, attractiveness to global talent and openness to new ideas, writes Rohan Silva, former adviser to David Cameron, in London’s Evening Standard.1 “Whatever Brexit may bring, those historic characteristics will surely abide. That bodes incredibly well for the future, and who knows which industry will be transformed next by London’s boundless entrepreneurial energy?”
The partnership also serves a strategic purpose … one to which Business Minister, Lord Prior, alluded in announcing the move: “It also provides a platform to promote the use of data from both Ordnance Survey and HM Land Registry to deliver the Government’s housebuilding agenda as part of our Industrial Strategy.”
That agenda certainly needs support, given the need, in England alone, for an estimated 222,000 new builds a year over the next 15 years.2 This is to tackle a dysfunctional housing market that, according to one commentator, eclipses Brexit, Trump and mad equity valuations as “The biggest threat to the UK economy.”3 Indeed, the Housing White Paper,4 presented to MPs earlier this year by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, notes that the UK’s rate of housebuilding per population over the past three decades is the lowest in western Europe. “We need to build more of the right houses in the right place and we need to start right now,” he said. And With ‘place’ the operative word, it gives plenty of scope for those at work in the Geovation Hub.
1 Evening Standard, 19 September 2016
2. National Housing Federation. Key Statistics Briefing. Jan 2016
3. Allister Heath, Editor of City A.M and columnist, The Telegraph, 2 March 2017
4. Fixing our broken housing market. February 2017