The inaugural Harold Samuel Research Prize will go towards research on commercial attitudes towards disability and real estate data standards.
The £15,000 prize pot will be split equally between Adrian Tagg, who will author research on commercial attitudes towards disability, and Dan Hughes, who will research real estate data standards through the Real Estate Data (RED) Foundation he founded.
Adrian, who is a Chartered Building Surveyor and Associate Professor at the University of Reading, will endeavour to ascertain the commercial benefits for real estate investors in the provision of inclusive environments. He will look into the barriers which exist in the Built Environment when it comes to compliance of legislation which places an obligation on facilitating inclusivity and seek to change attitudes so the sector actively promotes inclusive environments.
He said: “It’s a real honour to be the joint winner of this award and it’s both exciting and daunting at the same time. Entrusted with the responsibility to deliver a research project associated with UCEM is not to be taken lightly and I will endeavour to do this justice.”
When asked about what interested him in his chosen subject, Adrian answered: “Working commercially in the built environment invariably focusses on making fees for the business and profits for clients. Working on access audits following the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995 has always felt less commercial and more like giving something back, although it has made me increasingly aware that commercially the ‘norm’ is to comply with legal minimums regarding disabled access.
“Following the 2012 Paralympics and the apparent upsurge in public awareness of disability, I felt compelled to investigate the perceived disconnect between public and commercial attitudes to inclusivity, and the logical approach was to structure a more formal research into this.
“I’m excited by the research. I feel this could potentially be groundbreaking in understanding the commercial drivers for investors and service providers. Disability is so varied that a ‘one size’ approach is difficult to comprehend and currently the legal prescription requires ‘reasonable adjustment’, which is open to challenge.
“If it can be established that there is commercial value to provide wholly accessible properties and if the public support this, then it becomes an issue of funding. For those working within the property professions, we can protest about inclusivity, but the best way is to use our professional disciplines and influence to make a difference. I hope this research can contribute to this.”
Dan is the Founder of Alpha Property Insight, LIQUID Real Estate Innovation and the RED Foundation. The £7,500 prize will be put towards the latter organisation which is not-for-profit and seeks to address the data opportunities and threats faced by the real estate industry. His research will look to determine what real estate data standards currently exist and where there are gaps which require actions.
Dan commented: “I am delighted to be one of the first two recipients of the Harold Samuel Research Prize. It is great to see an institution such as UCEM driving thought leadership for the benefit of the sector.
“I have been involved in the use of data across the built environment for many years, but there is no doubt that in recent years, ‘data’ has risen up the sector’s agenda. As this happens, standards are often key to enabling the effective use of data.
“Data will allow us to achieve many things in real estate, but it is going to bring the sector some challenges as well. The RED Foundation exists to bring the whole built environment sector together and share insights around data whilst and joining up some of the market activity.
“There are many different initiatives across the sector relating to data standards and the research project that we will be carrying out on behalf of the RED Foundation will be looking to map out what already exists. This in turn will help the data flow across the traditional silos that we work in to benefit all stages of the lifecycle and to help identify the gaps that need further standards.”
The research projects will be due in 12 months’ time and UCEM will retain their intellectual property as per the terms of the competition. The award, honouring the benefactor of the prize money who studied with UCEM before founding real estate firm, Land Securities, will be contested on an annual basis.
UCEM Principal, Ashley Wheaton, added: “I am delighted with the calibre of our first ever award recipients’ research proposals. There was a lot of competition for the funding but I feel that Adrian’s and Dan’s projects will add a lot of value to the sector.
“It’s great to be able to get the ball rolling with this research programme and I look forward to seeing what is produced and the impact it will have on catering for inclusive environments and informing the real estate industry, respectively.”
The Harold Samuel Research Prize will be awarded annually. To find out more about the 2020 Prize, head to the Harold Samuel Research Prize webpage.