The Class Foundation – an interview with co-founder Frank Uffen.

Join us on November 17th, in Madrid, at one of the world’s most innovative real estate and urban planning conferences – designed by The Social Hub, with the future in mind. Find out more about it our exclusive interview with the co-founder of the Class foundation, Frank Uffen, and sign up to attend or watch the conference live here.

The first Class Conference was back in 2011. Can you tell us about how it all started?  

Frank: Well, in Dutch tradition, Charlie and I wanted to bring the social, private and public sector together to solve the emerging student housing crisis. We believed we would need 10 years to solve student housing issues, so we planned a Graduation Conference in 2020 to celebrate achievements.  

How has it been going to reaching your goals? 2020 was a couple of years ago.  

Frank:  Everything changed in March 2020 due to the global health crisis. But this crisis only made the cause stronger. We now know that the rise of blended living and learning is here to stay, because students still value experience and community. We also saw student mobility rising faster so we still have a lot of work to provide every student with the accommodation they deserve.     

So, what is exactly The Class Conference?  

Frank: We identify and discuss the big trends that will reshape the education, real estate, and student living industry. The Class Conference is our annual flagship event where 600 leaders from our industry come together to explore how we can use ideas and cross-border collaborations to shape the future of student living. With insights from industry trailblazers, international executives, investors, developers, operators set together the agenda for the next year over the course of our two-day programme.  


There’s is a new one coming up in Madrid. Tell us about it. 

Frank: This year's theme is Hyper-connectivity: The Urban (R)evolution. We explore whether the way we are living, and where we are heading, is sustainable in the environmental, social and economic ways. The UN estimates that by 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in cities, many attracted by universities. Globalisation and digitisation have transformed almost every aspect of urban life. Our homes are full of smart devices that talk to each other via the 'Internet of Things', and our lives are increasingly mediated by algorithms. We travel, study on- and offline, work in the gig economy, pay for goods and services with digital currencies, and eschew ownership in favour of sharing and renting models. This is one potential vision of our hyper-connected future – but we see a lot of challenges that are not addressed by our industry fast enough.

It sounds like something for smart people only!  

Frank: Laughing, not at all! This is something we all need to think about whether we like it or not. And yes talking about heavy subject matter like this can be hard over a number of days. So we try to make it as interactive and practical as possible. In fact, we design it more as a festival than a conference. We will also visit innovative projects like The Social Hub Madrid to show and share best-practices and is an award show that celebrates the Best in Class.

Want to join? The Conference takes place this Thursday November 17 from 9:45 until 16:00 in Madrid. Get your (online) tickets here.

About The Social Hub

The Social Hub hosts a diverse community where people come to learn, stay, work and play. The Social Hub’s leading hybrid hospitality concept is designed to welcome students, tourist, neighbours and entrepreneurs to create meaningful and fun experiences under one roof. From hotel facilities, student rooms and coworking spaces to auditoriums, gyms, event spaces and social initiative programmes. It’s a place where people can connect and learn from one another, a place to find and build a community, where connections grow, ideas spark and change happens. Whether a local, traveller, student or professional, The Social Hub connects guests with passionate people from all walks of life to meet, while sharing ideas and experiences. The Social Hub is on a journey to be as responsible and impactful as possible. With ‘social’ at the centre of its name, The Social Hub focuses on creating a better society and a fairer and greener world through its programming for the community and impact from business operations. Founded in 2012, The Social Hub, formerly known as The Student Hotel, is headquartered in Amsterdam and has more than 800 employees.

The Social Hub’s total locations amount to 23, with 16 properties open in Amsterdam City, Amsterdam West, Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Delft, Eindhoven, Florence, Groningen, Maastricht, Madrid, Paris, Rotterdam, The Hague, Toulouse and Vienna. Three new hubs will soon open in Glasgow, Porto and San Sebastian, with properties also opening in Florence Belfiore, Lisbon, Rome and Turin by 2025. With nearly 10,000 rooms across Europe, The Social Hub aims to offer unique experiences to its community of international guests and locals.

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