ULI Europe Conference kicks off this week

One of the most important real estate conferences on the European calendar is being held this week, albeit in very different circumstances compared to last year.

The 2021 ULI Europe Conference is an all-virtual event in contrast to the usual physical gathering that attracts hundreds of delegates to a major host city each year. Last year, the annual conference was held in Amsterdam.

Lisette van Doorn, CEO of ULI Europe who has been at the helm since 2015, said she was ‘taking the positives’, noting that a virtual event had facilitated speakers that might not ordinarily have attended a physical event.

Luminaries including Lord Norman Foster, the architectural guru; Professor Carlos Moreno, proponent of the 15-minute city concept; Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at Oxford University; Michala Marcussen, Group Chief Economist at Societe Generale; and, Philippe Close, Mayor of Brussels are participating.

ULI Europe has already hosted a number of Pre-event sessions ahead of the official conference.

The hectic schedule kicked off on Monday last week with the Creating Placemaking Forum, followed by the ULI Europe NEXT and Young Leaders Joint Forum the next day. Last week’s programme also included a Product Council virtual tour of Hudson Yards in Manhattan using software firm SpaceForm’s technology, plus a presentation by Yale University academic Frank Snowden, and a forum on data centres, as well as sessions on urban infrastructure and the Global Exchange Council Meeting.

Main event
But the conference kicks off officially from today (Monday) with a private Capital Markets Forum. On Tuesday, delegates will be welcomed by the ULI followed by a discussion on how history can provide lessons on leadership leading to economic and social progress at moments of global challenge or turmoil.

Van Doorn commented that last year saw social impact investing become a common theme throughout having been referred to by speakers during multiple sessions. However, that was less of an orchestrated topic, noted van Doorn, and more of a reflection of an important trend within the real estate industry. She said this year’s major themes included ESG and, of course, the overall question of what role placemaking continues to have with the coronavirus pandemic as the inescapable backdrop to the event.

On Tuesday, the winners of the ULI European Leadership Awards will be announced. Last year, Wolfgang Egger of German real estate group PATRIZIA walked away with the big prize. Director at PLP Architecture, Hala El Akl, was the inaugural winner of ULI European Talent Award for real estate professionals aged 40 and under.

The event runs through to the end of Wednesday.

Register | 2021 ULI Europe Conference