Real Estate

Tilburg method of social innovation

August 22, 2014 | 2 min read

How does social innovation work at VastgoedLAB? Professor Dirk Brounen tells about it in the magazine Tilburg Research. "We address issues in the sector and make them as factual and accessible as possible."

Connecting. An open way of working. Social focus. Being approachable. I see these things as the ingredients of the Tilburg method of social innovation. The working procedure of the ‘real estate lab’ VastgoedLAB is a way of achieving social innovation. 

You build a coalition with key partners in the sector, in our case FGHBank, AMVEST, PwC and PGGM. They are sponsors, but above all they are sparring partners. They don’t compete with each other and they help to find solutions. It is on the basis of this coalition that ideas for VastgoedLAB are generated, as regards both content and form. Think of it as co-creation. Four times a year we meet at a partners’ dinner. They tell us what’s going on with them, what their concerns are. These are the issues that we look at, for instance in the webinars we organize every six weeks. We also review our research agenda.

Adress issues in sector and make them accessible

Within VastgoedLAB we make topical issues as factual and accessible as possible. Just recently we had a webinar about the consequences of the AIFM Directive –the new European regulation for fund investors– for real estate funds. Previous topics have included big data and the opportunities it provides for the real estate market, how to tackle the problem of empty office blocks, how to deal with incorrect appraisals and how successful real estate investments are. We address issues in the sector and make them as factual and accessible as possible.

A recurring item is the Energy Label Index. Every quarter we examine how the energy label is performing in the Dutch housing market. A recent conclusion was that homes with an energy label have higher sales prices. Last year we also investigated whether the media are really so negative about the real estate sector as everyone in the sector perceives. We discovered this was incorrect. On the basis of research we hold up a mirror to the sector.

Everything is on the VastgoedLAB website

Everything we do is on the VastgoedLAB website, where you will find the webinars, short articles about studies, media appearances, abstracts of theses, etc. This website is our knowledge portal –our transparent window to the outside world. This is our strength: no secret experiments behind closed doors, but everything on display.

Our governance model requires this. We make relevant knowledge available to everyone and we are approachable. I see this as another essential component of social innovation.

Network partners ensures that the market knows us

“In VastgoedLAB we connect stakeholders. In addition to our four key partners, we also have nine network partners who pass on the relevant information from us to their followers, ensuring that the market knows us. This formula works: since 2011 the number of visitors has more than doubled, to over five thousand a year. We have a good reach and therefore we have impact.

Within TIAS we have organized all our knowledge areas in the LAB way. It is the backbone of our research and teaching. It would be fantastic if the LAB method could eventually become the Tilburg method. Tranzo and Netspar are already using it, in their own way. If you can work like this campus-wide on the basis of social themes, you can build powerful coalitions. The infrastructure is there, the knowledge is there and the network is there too. Surely bringing it all together is a no-brainer?”

[Author: Reggy van den Bosch]

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