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Pi Labs has concluded its twelfth annual growth programme for early stage start-ups, with the participating companies securing $7.5 million in funding. 

The built environment venture capital firm chose five companies from more than 1,000 applications. Seed and pre-seed capital was allocated by Pi Labs and external investors. 

This year’s start-ups include Pathways, an AI-driven sustainability platform enabling manufacturers to measure and reduce building material emissions and Kestrix, which uses drone technology and AI to pinpoint heat loss in residential buildings.

Pi Labs will support each company with mentoring the founders and introductions to business leads and co-investors. 

Faisal Butt, managing partner and founder of Pi Labs (middle row, 4th from right), said: “Our growth programme is focussed on scouting tomorrow’s technology leaders as early as possible and giving them the resources to positively transform the market at scale.”

Pi Labs has taken 56 early stage startups through the programme, with portfolio companies raising a total of $211 million.

A new ESG-focused investment fund backed by US real estate investment trusts has launched. 

Multifamily REITs Essex Property Trust and UDR, Inc. are backing the RET Ventures ESG Fund, which will target $80 million of investor capital to be invested in ESG solutions for the housing industry.

“In launching this fund, our team at RET aims to build on the success we’ve had with other ESG-adjacent investments and collaborate with multifamily and proptech industry leaders to identify and nurture the platforms poised to revolutionize the market,” said RET Ventures partner John Helm.

The fund will take “a more holistic” approach to ESG and address social issues, including housing affordability, building health and safety, and resident wellbeing as well as environmental solutions.

“Taking a leadership role in this fund marks an important next step for Essex as we continue to expand on our decades long commitment to sustainability and investing in technologies that target an environmental benefit,” said Mike Schall, CEO at Essex, which owns interests in more than 60,000 apartments on the US West Coast.

“At UDR, we pride ourselves on our commitment to sustainability, and our decision to help RET Ventures launch this fund should enhance the financial, environmental, and social dividends we deliver to our stakeholders,” said Tom Toomey, chairman and CEO of UDR, which has investments in assets with more than 50,000 units. 

RET Ventures manages more than $375 million in committed capital and has invested in more than 20 portfolio proptech companies. This is the company’s first fund. 

Proptech investor Taronga Ventures is getting close to the $200m target for its first fund. 

Singapore developer CDL committed an undisclosed sum to the RealTech Ventures I Fund this week, following recent commitments from Qantas Super, Dutch pensions group APG and Canadian investor Ivanhoé Cambridge. The fund will invest in proptech companies which are relevant to the Asia Pacific region, with a focus on sustainability-linked ventures. 

The fund, which has attracted investment from a range of blue-chip institutions and real estate investment managers the fund, had an initial target of only $50m but is now understood to be capped at $200m. 

“CDL’s investment in Taronga Ventures allows us to partner the market’s best in class to drive product and process innovation. Their focus on green innovations complements our ESG and sustainable investment initiatives, and supports our decarbonisation efforts,” said Mr Sherman Kwek, CDL’s group chief executive officer.

APG and Ivanhoé Cambridge also announced they would become partners in in Taronga Ventures’ ESG Impact innovation program, which will be implemented across Asia in 2022 and 2023. The program supports the adoption of best-in-class ESG technologies and innovations that drive real and measurable change.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Taronga Ventures for our first proptech investment in Asia Pacific. The partnership will allow us to have direct access to some of the latest innovations in our industry which will bring long-term benefits to our wider real estate portfolio. The fund’s strong focus on ESG related tech also perfectly aligns with our vision to drive longer term sustainability within real estate,” said Graeme Torre, managing director and head of real estate for APG Asset Management Asia Pacific.