Ananda UrbanTech, the vision and commitment of Ananda Development towards continuously improving the lives of urban-dwellers through innovation and technology, and Seedstars, a global organisation with a mission to impact people's lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship, partnered for the second year running to host Ananda x Seedstars Urban Living. The forum’s prestigious keynote speakers discussed the latest technological and innovative solutions improving urban landscapes and impacting the everyday lives of Bangkokians and other urban citizens.
Urban development is a hot topic in Bangkok. In this age of urbanisation, half the global population already lives in cities and that’s set to rise to 70 percent by 2050, according to UN forecasts. The challenge for urban planners is to consider city aesthetics as well as the health, mobility and education of its residents and pollution, safety and infrastructure. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report, some of Bangkok’s key challenges are the number of deadly traffic accidents, congested roads and high CO2 emissions per capita.
“At Ananda Development, we are constantly innovating across every aspect of our business in order to improve the lives of urban-dwellers, utilizing technology to improve quality of life across all areas of modern living, including safety, housing, commuting, work, health and personal finance. Through this partnership with Seedstars we’re well-positioned to play a key role in the urban development of Thailand and the region by empowering other organizations to focus on progressive solutions to work towards a smart city,” said Dr. John Leslie Millar, Ananda's Chief Strategic Development Officer.
The long-standing partnership between Ananda UrbanTech and Seedstars has the potential to alter the trajectory of urban development in Bangkok. The forum brought together some of the most influential people and companies in urban innovation discuss how data will support development and to share tangible solutions, with much of the discussion revolving around the idea that smart cities are not truly sustainable unless citizens are empowered with the tools they need to participate in the smart city movement. Among the ideas introduced by the forum’s keynote speakers were four promising solutions for enabling megalopolises like Bangkok to become smart cities. Those ideas include:
- Augmented environments, allowing objects and their surroundings to interact in an entirely new way
- Integrating green spaces to make buildings self-sustainable
- Integrated transports (different types of transports are interconnected to operate as one
- Mapping Bangkok interactions with data
“Our mission to impact the lives of those in emerging markets via technology and entrepreneurship opens up endless opportunities. Urban living and smart cities are two central topics for any organization looking to make a difference. By gathering experts and change makers to address and discuss these key issues, we offer the tools they need to achieve their goals,” said Katarina Szulenyiova Head of Operations at Seedstars.
The by-invitation-only event targeted the region’s influential urban planners, investors and entrepreneurs and featured a line-up of keynote speakers renowned for their thought-leading expertise in the field of urban living. Discussions spanned how city data and the latest technologies can be used to positively impact urban living socioeconomic outcomes and improve the quality of life of all citizens.
"Design for the Hybrid City: Inter/face, Inter/act, Improv/act," by Kristian Kloeckl, Designer and Associate Professor at Northeastern University in the Department of Art + Design and the School of Architecture. “A hybrid city environment is superior to a smart city; it’s capable of sensing, responding in real time to unforeseen situations. Improvisation makes us more resilient, helps us stay relevant and make changes. When we’re open to improvisation, we work constructively with uncertainty and embrace not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Kristian Kloeckl at Ananda x Seedstars Urban Living.
Kloeckl’s work examines interaction design in the context of today’s hybrid cities, and investigates the role of improvisational frameworks for design. He has been published extensively on these issues, with work exhibited at venues such as the Venice Biennale, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Singapore Art Museum. He has spoken as an expert at the Montreal World Design Summit, Austrian Innovation Forum in Vienna, Hybrid City Conference, MIT Media Lab and Red Dot Design Musuem in Singapore, amongst others.
“Natural design for high density environments,” by Manuel Der Hagopian, Partner and Co-Founder at G8A Architects. “Every city is very specific in terms of culture, climate, politics… and sometimes building isn’t the right course of action. Sometimes it’s knowing when to stop building,” said Manuel Der Hagopian. “Vertical densification is in fact due to lack of space, but we should be careful of the impact on the Community. Even if Waterways Terraces has 20 floors it is actually an example of horizontal densification which harbors more opportunity for a sense of community,” he added.
Der Hagopian founded G8A in Geneva. Through the company’s think tank, 8+, he is pursuing a strong interest in the consequences of a rapidly growing population’s impact on the residential housing situation in South East Asia. Since 2015, he has been a guest professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design, where he aims to strengthen the transfer of architectural and design knowledge between Singapore and Switzerland.
“Innovation for transformative change,” by Sudeept Maiti, Senior Manager for the Cities Program at WRI India. “The only way to reduce traffic congestion is to get people to use shared and public transport services. There’s no two ways about it. And those services need to be as comfortable, convenient and reliable as other solutions in order to be workable,” said Sudeept Maiti at the event.
Maiti is responsible for leading WRI India’s engagement with new mobility enterprises for urban transport. He has worked with over 200 mobility solutions, specializing in sustainable transport, urban planning and urban design. He has expertise in multi-city and multi-stakeholder engagement, which has helped him catalyze many opportunities for dynamic private engagements. His work also includes strategy planning and on-ground implementation for safe access and public space design as well as transit-orientated development (TOD) for cities.
"They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb
Seedstars is a Swiss-based group with the mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. Through different activities that range from start-up scouting, events organization to company building and acceleration programs, Seedstars has built the world's biggest community of change makers in emerging markets. Seedstars group includes the Entrepreneurship Forum for Emerging Markets (Seedstars Summit), physical entrepreneurs hubs (Seedspace), acceleration programs (Seedstars Growth), teaching & training programs (Seedstars Academy) and an investment entity with a start-up lab and a fund (Seedstars Investments). Some of Seedstars main partners are Enel (Energy), TRECC - Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (Education), BBVA (Finance), Merck (Health) and Continental (Mobility).
About Ananda UrbanTech
Ananda UrbanTech empowers Ananda Development’s vision and commitment to disrupt the traditional way of living to improve the quality of Urban Life. Set up in 2017 by this publically listed property developer, Ananda UrbanTech has implemented a three-pillar strategy whose components are: Ecosystem Support, Fund of Funds and Corporate Venture Capital. This innovative approach has enabled Ananda UrbanTech to make use of technology in order to further develop this quality of life in all aspects of modern living, covering safety, speed and convenience in the areas of housing, commuting, working, health and personal finance.
Ananda UrbanTech has helped Ananda Development to become a regional tech leader within the real estate market. For more information, please visit: https://www.ananda.co.th/urbantech/