Construction and real estate sectors are going through big changes, as the traditional industry is starting to digitalise itself. And now the expertise is being transported over the ocean from Finland to the US. Kenneth Powers from the Nashville-based Commercial Realty Services connected with the Greater Helsinki smart building expertise with the help of Helsinki Business Hub.
Real estate and construction industries are digitalising. And it is estimated, that these industries are the ones digitalisation will have the biggest impact in. The need for new housing and buildings, concern for the environment and rising costs all set pressure on finding intelligent solutions for the built environment especially in the urban areas. Finland and Greater Helsinki have actively driven the development of smart cities and the sustainable digitalisation of the built environment. Finland is one of the property technology, or proptech, leaders with the highest concentration of companies in the field in Europe in proportion to the population, according to Unissu.
“Digitalisation is the biggest change in business in the past 100 years. We are going through a profound transformation. The services, speed, costs, business models – they are all changing. My goal is to produce a smart building for my business and simultaneously raise the bar of the construction sector in the US,” tells Kenneth Powers, Founder and President of Commercial Realty Services.
I came to look for technologies and design solutions for smart buildings. And I found what I was looking for.
Kenneth Powers, Founder and President, Commercial Realty Services
Commercial Realty Services (CRS) is a Nashville-based real estate development company dedicated to creating commercial developments. Kenneth Powers has 40 plus years’ experience in commercial real estate. In addition to the development company, Kenneth Powers also owns a large wine and spirit store in Nashville. But it was his search for smart building solutions that brought him to Finland and Greater Helsinki.
Growing urban markets with similar challenges
Though being over 7,600 kilometres apart and separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Nashville and Greater Helsinki regions have many things in common. Both regions are the economic and residential centres for their areas – Nashville for Tennessee, US and Greater Helsinki for Finland. They are also similar in size – Nashville metropolitan area has 1,9 million inhabitants while Greater Helsinki has 1,6 million.
Nashville is among the most fastest growing metropolitan areas in the US, and the growth is estimated to continue on a rapid pace. The same goes for Greater Helsinki, which is estimated to grow by a quarter of a million people in the next 20 years. The growth poses challenges, but also possibilities regarding for example infrastructure, housing and transportation for Finnish and US companies in both markets. Kenneth Powers also finds similarities in the operating environments.
“Greater Helsinki and Nashville both have this ‘can do’ attitude. People are enthusiastic and excited about new opportunities. Both regions also have a human centric approach to developing new services and solutions.”
Everything made easy
Finding the right solutions require a lot of market knowledge, connections with the right companies, introductions to the partner network and touring around the region. For Kenneth Powers, this service was provided by Helsinki Business Hub.
“You need someone who knows the local market, the companies and other stakeholders, and the technological expertise available. Someone who can tell the whole story. With the help from Helsinki Business Hub it was easy to meet with the local decision makers and I was impressed of the level of interest towards doing business together. I want to thank everyone for their hospitality, it has been invaluable”, Powers declares.
“We first met with Kenneth in Helsinki in July 2018 when he attended the Disruption Lab Innovation Tour. Helsinki Business Hub was responsible for arranging the tour and we have continued cooperating with Disruption Lab in Nashville since. We have an excellent cooperation with Kenneth, and I see a lot of opportunities for the Finnish companies to boost the real estate and construction sector digitalisation and smart building concept development in Nashville. And we also welcome companies from the US to come and get to know the Greater Helsinki ecosystem,” explains Irma Ylikangas, Senior Business Advisor for Helsinki Business Hub.
You need someone who knows the local market, the companies and other stakeholders, and the technological expertise available. Someone who can tell the whole story. With the help from Helsinki Business Hub it was easy.
Kenneth Powers, Founder and President of Commercial Realty Services
The Finnish smart building companies, their technical expertise and the willingness to share their capabilities also impressed Powers. Finland is regularly ranked at the top in studies that compare the ease of doing business. Companies have a low hierarchy; English is widely spoken; and the business environment is safe and the least corrupt in the world. The compact size of the market in Greater Helsinki also presents advantages. The tight ecosystem of public and private organisations, research institutions and residents is a great platform to spark innovation.
“I came to look for technologies and design solutions for smart buildings. And I found what I was looking for,” Kenneth Powers tells happily.
The visit to Greater Helsinki resulted in finding 5 to 6 companies from the smart building sector which Kenneth Powers will explore in more detail. The goal is to establish joint ventures and partnerships with some of these companies. The future prospects are looking promising: his next visit to Greater Helsinki is already booked.