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HK Government Funded Startup Launches Online Property Analysis Tool

Property Market Intelligence Limited (PMI), one of the first startups to receive funding from the Hong Kong Government's HK$750 million (US$96.8 million) Applied Research Fund, is now offering an online Asian property evaluation tool for institutional investors and property analysts.

Spending more than one million U.S. dollars, PMI developed the Java-based tool, called Pyramid, over 12 months in partnership with another Hong Kong company, the Web Connection.

"From day one, Pyramid was designed as a platform rather than a product," said Matthew Richardson, founder and managing director of PMI. "We are hoping that an online centralized information source will improve transparency and improve access to information."

"Pyramid fills an important gap for the investment community," said Michael Leary, regional property analyst at Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong. "Until now there was very little detailed information on the Asian property markets and what there was tended to be isolated and difficult to obtain."

According to a recent study conducted by FPDSavills Research and PMI, international investors are becoming more interested in Asian property with US$ 31.9 billion targeting the region.

PMI forecasts that this growing interest in Asian property will make Pyramid an attractive tool for investors and analysts in the U.S. and Europe.

Pyramid's database has 10 million records and lists over 11,000 investment grade buildings and 3,000 hotels with details down to floor plate size, estimated construction costs together with all ownership details.

"By drawing data from a diverse number of sources and presenting it in an east-to-use format, Pyramid will take much guesswork out of real estate investment," added Richardson.

In producing and managing Pyramid, PMI has forged partnerships in Hong Kong with AT&T and Sun Microsystems.

Since it was established in September 1997, PMI has grown from a company of 3 people to 24 staff in Hong Kong sub-contracting data collection from 13 companies in 11 Asian countries.

Although Pyramid is being billed as PMI's flagship service, PMI has two other online services, Asian Property Journal --a daily online property news service--and ContraxAsia--a daily source of Asian building and construction news.

Late last year, PMI was awarded a government grant by Asia Tech Ventures, one of the three private firms that is managing the Hong Kong Government's technology fund.