Befimmo becomes a founding partner of co.building to meet the major challenges of the real estate sector

25 February 2021
The company is pursuing its partnership with Co.Station

More than ever, there’s an urgent need for quality offices and homes, both for sanitary and ecological reasons. What does the future of offices look like? Will teleworking become a more integrated part of our activities after the COVID-19? How can the sector reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to Europe’s climate-neutral goals? How to leverage existing and new data to improve the user experience as well as the maintenance, security and facility of the buildings? These are just a few of the many challenges that the new open innovation ecosystem co.building, headed by Befimmo and BNP Paribas Fortis, will be working on this year.

It goes without saying that the real estate and construction sector face a lot of uncertainties and challenges. The pandemic has shown to be the biggest enabler of workplace transformation, accelerating new ways of working and living. On a very short notice, even the most teleworking resistant organizations had to face considerable changes and develop hybrid working solutions. In spite of the uncertainties that the pandemic has thrown at us, it has also shown us what most of us value. Physical offices will evolve into collaborative and social hubs, where floorspace is given to communal areas designed for collaboration, connecting with colleagues and customers, coaching and mentoring. Flexibility of space will be key.

Whilst Covid-19 has been radically accelerating the office landscape reshaping, other environmental emergencies need to be tackled if Belgium wants to contribute to Europe’s climate-neutral targets for 2050. Considering the high emission rate of the industry, the Belgian real-estate players will need to step up the pace of building renovation with ambitious performance targets.

“It will become more important to take advantage of new technologies to develop sustainable solutions in the real estate and construction sector. I’m convinced that there is still a lot of digital know-how and potential that needs to be explored within the industry”, says Cécile Huylebroeck, head of co.building.

356 days to tackle 4 challenges

For that reason, the Belgian listed real-estate operator Befimmo and BNP Paribas Fortis join forces to address major challenges in the real-estate sector and become Founding Partners of co.building, the new ecosystem launched by Co.Station. Together with 20 other organisations, such as NMBS/SNCB, Engie, Revive or Extensa, they will spend a whole year addressing four major challenges in the building sector: new ways of working and living (with more and more flexible workspace experiences), renovation and energy performance, user-centric & smart buildings and circular economy (building materials reuse and recycling (or multiple-use) design and infrastructure).

“We are very proud to be a founding partner of this new ecosystem. co.building is an extension of our strategy. Together with our partners we want to innovate in the field in order to shape tomorrow's hybrid world of work in a smart, progressive and sustainable way”, says Benoît De Blieck, CEO of Befimmo.

“As part of the ‘New Ways of Working’ programme, BNP Paribas Fortis stepped up efforts to facilitate and encourage its staff to work from home, with first impressive results as of 2014. This experience helped the bank to remain fully operational as of the first day of the lockdown. Going forward, BNP Paribas Fortis, as one of the major employers in Belgium, wants to continue to be a forerunner in the changing world of working. As a founding partner of Co.Station, we are delighted to announce the launch of the co.building ecosystem, a product of our partnership with Befimmo, alongside many other valuable partners. In the next months, we will take up our role in this new ecosystem in order to build further on the lessons learned and address important questions related to digitisation, sustainability, the optimal facilitation of team work and the adherence of all staff to the purpose and values of their organisation”, adds Max Jadot, CEO of BNP Paribas Fortis.

Other ecosystems ahead

co.building will be Co.Station’s fourth ecosystem. As always, Co.Station will supervise the one-year program from idea to prototype. The ideas that get a favourable vote for further prototyping will be partially revealed during Summer. All members of the ecosystem will work intensively during this prototyping phase to deliver concrete outcomes by the end of the year. Experts and coaches, selected by Co.Station, will facilitate the working groups.

Co.Station previously demonstrated its experience and expertise in accompanying such partnerships. Launched in 2018, the open innovation ecosystems bring together different actors to solve complex societal and business challenges together. “We can already reveal that, given the success of this approach and methodology, which are quite unique on the market, several more ecosystems will be launched by Co.Station in the coming months”, concludes Béatrice de Mahieu, CEO of Co.Station.

Contact Befimmo :
Caroline Kerremans, Head of IR & Communication
+32 (0)2 679 38 13

About Co.Station

Co.Station is an inspiring and innovative workplace that helps entrepreneurs to develop their business and medium-sized and large companies to innovate. It is also the ideal partner for building innovation ecosystems thanks to its large and international community of start-ups, scale-ups, companies and its extensive network of international experts, universities, governments and regulatory institutions. By operating and facilitating cooperation and action by and between these different stakeholders, Co.Station plays a major role in focusing on societal challenges and fostering great ideas for cooperation with large-scale impact. To achieve its goal, Co.Station can also count on five trusted shareholders: BNP Paribas Fortis, SD Worx, Proximus, USG and Befimmo. Its workspaces are located in Belgium (Brussels, Ghent and Charleroi).