Mipim organisers ‘upbeat and realistic’ as they prepare for Cannes event in September

The organisers of Mipim September Edition are confident that further progress in opening up countries in Europe as vaccine rollouts pick up pace, combined with a growing industry desire to return to in-person events, will lead to a successful – albeit significantly scaled down – event in September.

In an interview with PropertyEU, Mipim director Ronan Vaspart said feedback from clients and stakeholders had revealed a strong appetite to ‘reconnect’ in person, and that continued progress on vaccinations and a further easing of travel and other restrictions would enable this.

‘I think everyone now is quite careful but happy that everything is going back to, I wouldn’t say normal, but something better than what we’ve experienced over the past year,’ he said.

He added: ‘We’ve had so much feedback from clients asking: when will we be able to meet in person again, so clearly we are happy to be the first main event in the real estate industry to take place.’

Vaspart said that France, in line with most European countries, was aiming to return to near-normal conditions by 1 July, with large business and other events such as music festivals and football matches able to take place without a cap on visitor numbers.

Mipim September Edition, set to take place on 7-8 September in Cannes, will be a rendez-vous for the real estate, city and tech communities, he said. The organisers are expecting 7,000-8,000 visitors (including exhibitors), less than a third of the pre-Covid attendance figure for Mipim, which normally takes place over three days.

‘I think we have to be realistic. Let’s not expect 20,000 people,’ Vaspart said. ‘The world has lived through a huge crisis. Of course companies may send smaller delegations – so instead of 100 people they might send, say, 20,’ he noted.

Countries represented
Visitors will come mainly from France, Germany and the UK - the three main countries of representation - as well as from Italy, Spain, the Benelux and Nordics. Delegates from Asia and the US are expected to be largely absent due to ongoing travel restrictions. ‘We are focusing this edition – at least the physical part of it – on Europe and the Middle East,’ Vaspart said.

That does not mean to say that companies from Asia or the US – or any other region - will not be represented, he stressed, since all major international firms tend to have offices in Europe, ‘so their European teams can attend’.

Ahead of an EU-wide ‘Covid passport’ enabling free travel between member states which is expected to come into operation over the summer, the French government is working on its own pass sanitaire or ‘health pass’ for travel and leisure activities. Although details still have to be worked out, it is likely to be made mandatory for all events with more than 1,000 visitors.

‘I don’t have all the details but it’s clear a health pass of some kind containing proof of vaccination or a negative test will be mandatory for big events and therefore will be required to attend Mipim,’ Vaspart said. ‘I see that as a good thing though, because while it could be conceived as a constraint for some visitors, for the vast majority of delegates it will give them some reassurance that these big networking opportunities are safe and the risks of getting Covid are clearly reduced.’

Besides time of year, the main difference between the September 2021 event and a ‘normal’ Mipim is size. Mipim September Edition will be a hybrid physical and digital event held over two instead of three days. It will revolve around two main elements: a conference programme and exhibition area, combined with in-person networking. Activities will be concentrated mainly in the Palais des Festivals venue and all conference sessions will be livestreamed. The Mipim Awards ceremony, honouring exemplary development projects in a range of categories, will also be held.

Said Vaspart: ‘Mipim September Edition will be an event clearly condensed into two days; we will have content and conferences, and, quite importantly, an exhibition area as well, as a lot of clients want to showcase the new developments they have worked on during the past year. So, it will be an important exhibition, content and networking opportunity for clients.’

Those who had booked for Mipim 2020 were, after it was cancelled, offered the choice between a refund or rolling over their payment to this year. They have been offered participation in Mipim September Edition at a reduced rate – with the difference being held over for March 2022 in Cannes. This reduced rate also includes year-round access to Mipim’s digital platform.

Companies and speakers
As of 21 May, more than 150 companies and organisations were signed up for the Cannes event, including CBRE, Gecina, Korian, AG Real Estate, Hamburg Invest, RICS and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

UK companies attending include ACME, Air Design Ltd, Cortland, CT Group, Design International, Investrex, LXI REIT Advisors, Nuvolo Technologies Corporation, Robert Cort Properties, Société Générale (London branch), StratecognRE, PLP Architecture and Urban Splash.

Confirmed cities include Helsinki, Berlin, Hamburg, Stockholm, Paris, Marseille and Dijon.

This year’s event will have as its theme: New World, New Era!, in line with a post-Covid perspective but also to emphasise the three pillars of sustainable development: people, planet and performance. ‘It’s not only a question of ecology and the environment, it’s also about diversity and social inclusion, things like affordable housing,’ said Vaspart. Innovation and digital transformation, two trends which were already in evidence prior to the crisis but have speeded up since then, will also be spotlighted.

On the conference side, the speaker line-up includes the usual mix of real estate and political leaders, as well as what Vaspart described as ‘out of the box’ thought leaders.

Confirmed names include Stephanie Bensimon, head of real estate for Ardian; Katarzyna Zawodna-Bijoch, CEO of CEE at Skanska; Karin Sheppard, SVP & managing director Europe, InterContinental Hotels Group, Sophie Boissard, CEO Korian; Tom Bloxham, chairman, Urban Splash; Eduardo Paes, mayor of Rio de Janeiro; Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation; Yvan Bourgnon, chairman and founder of The SeaCleaners; Philippe Bourguignon, co-founder of Le Shack and partner in @Revolution; and Lord Grimstone of Boscobel, minister for investment at the Department for International Trade in the UK.

Mipim said details of more participant companies, cities and speakers will be announced in June.

The organisers clearly see the two-day September event as a prelude to Mipim in March 2022. Said Vaspart: ‘The September edition is all about reconnecting, engaging the real estate and tech industry as well as political leaders in this new step, this new world. We need to start the conversation and draw up action plans. Then in March 2022 we’ll see if and how those action plans have been implemented.’

Digital platform
Mipim has launched a revamped digital platform, incorporating lessons learned from the virtual events it has held since it introduced Mipim Connect in May 2020. ‘The Mipim 365 digital platform will be a good opportunity for visitors to prepare their Mipim and get access to content all year round, instead of during just a few days,’ said Vaspart.

Experience gained from Paris Real Estate Week and Propel by Mipim last September, combined with further insights distilled from the digital Leaders Perspectives Summit in March this year, will all be used to improve and enhance the digital offering. ‘We learned over the past year how to implement new features, how to push more content, and how to interact more because it was a bit passive before. Thanks to all these experiments, we have learnt a lot and hopefully this will provide something really useful for the community – not only physically but also digitally.’

Against this background, Vaspart said the Mipim team was working towards the September event ‘with energy and confidence’.

‘We’re looking forward to the Mipim September Edition in Cannes and to going back to face-to-face events because clearly that’s the reason why we live and work – we’re social animals,’ he said.

‘A lot of people are saying: we are not thinking about how to live after the virus but how to live with the virus, and I think that is a song we need to sing together.’



Image © S. D'HALLOY - Image & Co