The London property tech, or proptech, scene is grabbing attention across the globe, as the $13bn (£9.4bn) US investment firm Varde Partners has today scooped a stake in venture capital firm Pi Labs, City A.M. can reveal.
London-based Pi Labs, which closed its second $10m fund last year, focuses on scaling up early-stage proptech firms and has invested in businesses such as online mortgage broker Trussle and Airbnb management service Airsorted.
In a sign that interest in proptech is booming, Varde and a number of other investment partners have given Pi an undisclosed sum to help it open offices around the world.
"This is really positive for London and tech," said Pi Labs managing partner Dominic Wilson. "Everyone's walking on a knife edge about Brexit but this shows there are still a lot of people that are looking at supporting entrepreneurs."
Wilson is adamant that London will remain Varde's home – "We see London as a global centre in terms of property," he said – but plans to open a Singapore office within the year. This will act mostly to facilitate connections between businesses in the UK and Singapore.
Meanwhile, Varde will get some exposure to an exciting new area of tech without having to build its own team. "Technology has huge potential to impact the real estate market for the better by improving efficiency and unlocking the hidden underlying value across a range of real estate asset classes. The investment in Pi Labs gives us an important early view into new and emerging technologies," said Varde's Tim Mooney.
According to Wilson, businesses such as online estate agents which help consumers with property issues, those which are aiming to address the property shortage, and those which are improving logistics are providing strong investment opportunities.
Pi is currently looking closely businesses in the insurance space, and is also involved with a quality control business which helps improve factors like air quality and noise pollution in buildings.