On 24th February, the Esade Alumni Real Estate Club held its 20th Annual Real Estate Industry Dinner, which this year featured a talk by Cristina Garmendia, President of the Cotec Foundation, entitled “The Value of Intangibles”. The dinner was a great opportunity for alumni and professionals from the real estate industry to reconnect and share ideas.
Carmina Ganyet (VV 03), Vice President of the Esade Alumni Real Estate Club, welcomed the attendees and expressed her delight at being able to organise an exceptional reunion after two years: “At the Real Estate Club, we aim for innovation and talent. That’s why we wanted to hold an inspirational session: this is about trying to understand tomorrow in order to design the present.”
During her talk, Cristina Garmendia discussed intangible assets and the transition that is affecting investment flows, taking us from an economy fundamentally based on tangible assets (real estate, raw materials, machines) to one where intangible assets (innovation, reputation, strategy, data, design and training, among other things) mark the difference between countries and companies.
Garmendia began her talk by describing the three trends that will define the axes of transformation in the medium to long term: the change in information flows, the change in raw materials and energy, and the change in innovation. “At Cotec, we like to say that innovation is any knowledge-based change that creates value,” she explained. “The transition from a material economy to an intangible economy is what allows us to make the digital transition well.”
The value of intangible assets
There are four basic elements to intangible assets: science, investment, equity and talent. “All intangible assets have two characteristics in common: the difficulty of measuring them despite their value, and their relationship with knowledge,” declared Garmendia. “In the real estate sector, all challenges are expected to come through R&D and sociological research: you have to stay abreast of social science research, because it can provide clues about what is coming.” Science and innovation are essential for the development of our society; the pandemic has given science its rightful place.
“The competition now is in intangibles,” Garmendia argued, noting that the difference between two companies always has to do with intangible assets. In Spain, a lot of money is invested in design and advertising, but not enough in R&D, organisational processes or training – which is a mistake, according to Garmendia. “Whenever there is something very valuable and disruptive, it generates inequality,” she explained. “It is important that these inequalities not become chronic.”
The Cotec president wrapped up her talk by emphasising how important it is to retain talent in order to generate more wealth. She turned to the example of Catalonia, where “lots of talent is available and it has a much greater impact on the economy than in other regions, but it is not retained as well as it should be”.
After an intense Q&A session, Garmendia and the attendees moved on to the traditional cocktail dinner, where they had a chance to share experiences, reconnect and continue networking.