Alex Cousins, Business Development Director at Capita, reflects on 2018 at MIPIM and her predictions for 2019.
Like many others who attended MIPIM this year – I found the atmosphere and agenda very different. Different in a positive way. But for me something was missing that would make MIPIM 2019 an even better experience for participants.
While many people have been talking about the issue of gender diversity at MIPIM 2018 – with more women on the panels and more women speakers than ever – for me it was the diversity in the range of conversations and agenda that really stood out this year from previous years.
In fact, diversity was one of the dominant themes across the week, especially well highlighted with a campaign by the London Festival of Architecture called #SeeTheElephant to tackle discrimination and harassment in architecture and the built environment. Elephant badges were handed out and demonstrated to others that those wearing them won’t tolerate or hesitate to call out inappropriate or discriminatory behaviour.
MIPIM was about place and lifestyle
The conference and exhibition was not just about property and real estate – it’s moved on to a much wider remit, with more of a focus on the wider picture, particularly place, growth and people. This was largely thanks to the overarching theme set down by the organisers of – ‘Mapping World Urbanity’ – which got people talking about future cities and how places and communities will look in 20/30 years’ time – bringing people and culture into all the debates and discussions.
Which is why I think it was so important to see that local authorities had more of a voice this year. MIPIM is a great opportunity to showcase what a place has to offer to potential investors and developers – it is not just about land, and bricks and mortar, but it is about what makes a place special and different with lifestyle, people and skills. MIPIM lends itself to more open conversation with city leaders and those that have the responsibility to help shape our places. than you can have anywhere else, and you rarely get the ears of such a broad mix of people – especially investors that want to work with cities to help make a difference. And with many local leaders openly embracing collaboration for their place to grow – collaboration with other regions and councils, universities, social enterprises etc, as well as with investors and developers – it’s a chance to bring people and ideas together to discuss how all of this can work.
… about green issues
The environment was a major talking point, and on every Mayor’s agenda, ie, how development can be green and support sustainability. It’s no longer about wanting homes built here and offices built there – creating commuter belts – they want to see greener communities being built where people can live work and play without travelling (a great example being The Crescent, announced by the Mayor of Salford and Salford University at MIPIM). There was lots of talk about retro-fitting existing developments, to make them more environment-friendly, not just buildings, but landscaping to encourage walking and cycling for example, and planting a City of Trees.
.…and about tech
Shaking off its reputation as a somewhat tech-resistant industry, another big difference I noticed was that technology was everywhere; and the opportunities – and challenges – of tech in the property sector were a very hot topic. There’s a realisation now that you can’t separate tech from the built environment any more – with smart cities, connected cities and future transport opportunities now a key focus. Big data has arrived and our cities are now grappling with just how to make an integrated and connected world work.
Cities need to encourage and nurture the growth of tech, and the next generation by –helping to supporting further and higher education with new spaces to create and develop, as well as new business start ups.
If MIPIM 2018 was a barometer of change, then I’m pretty happy with the positive indicators that I saw at the show. But I really noticed the lack of young people – it would have been great to see and hear the younger generation talking about stuff that is 20/30 years ahead. So, particularly as next year marks the 30th anniversary of MIPIM, let’s get Generation Z talking about what is, essentially, going to be their future.
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