For more than two decades Liverpool has been sending delegations to the global MIPIM expo in Cannes and now the city will return to the festival for the first time in two years. Tony McDonough reports
A high-powered delegation of business and political leaders from Liverpool city region will return to the global MIPIM expo in Cannes for the first time since 2019.
MIPIM (Le Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier) is one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. Pre-pandemic it saw more than 24,000 developers, investors, professionals and members of city and national delegations gather in Cannes on the French Riviera for four days.
This year’s event will take place from Tuesday, March 15, to Friday, March 18. In 2019 the Liverpool city region delegation comprised representatives from more than 40 businesses. Amid the recovery from the pandemic, this year’s private sector delegation will number around 10.
Companies represented will include Arup, Avison Young, Brabners, Gleeds, Morgan Sindall, Peel, Sutcliffe, Steven Hunt & Associates, IoN Developments Lovells and WSP. They will be joined by a number of politicians and public sector figures.
They will include Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, chief executive of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Katherine Fairclough, and her and Liverpool City Council counterpart Tony Reeves.
Liverpool, and latterly the city region, have attended MIPIM on and off for more than 20 years with the city setting up a stand in the main hall each time. Critics say it is little more than a junket. An oft-quoted statistic of the festival is that it sees more champagne consumed than at the Cannes Film Festival at the same venue later in the year.
While it is true that delegates do have a reputation for laying siege to the many bars and restaurants in the vicinity, they will also argue the expo offers an opportunity to meet with existing clients outside of normal business restriction and to connect with potential new clients.
From a public sector point of view the mindset is ‘we have to be there because everyone else is’. It does offer the chance to have discussions with potential inward investors. Some of the discussions around Grosvenor’s £1bn Liverpool ONE scheme took place in Cannes.
And for the last few years the private sector has footed the bill for the attendance of politicians and public sector officials. There was a time Liverpool City Council did pay for officials to attend but, following the financial crash and subsequent age of austerity, that became impossible to justify to Council Tax payers.
In 2013, a private sector-led organisation, Liverpool at MIPIM, was set up to co-ordinate each mission to Cannes. Last year that was rebranded as Liverpool Place Partnership and its brief widened to promote the city region at other events. A delegation will be attending UK REIIF in Leeds in May, another MIPIM-style event.
Stephen Cowperthwaite, chair of the Liverpool Place Partnership and regional managing director for Avison Young in Liverpool, said: “After a couple of years away from MIPIM, we are looking forward to once again be reigniting some of the connections and conversations that will bring more international interest to our great city.
“Since we were last in Cannes, through a host of webinars, meetings and roundtables we have been working hard as a partnership to ensure that our investment message isn’t purely centred around MIPIM. However, it is an important event in the business and property calendar as it provides us with the international reach to secure further future investment.”
Innovation is set to be a big talking point at MIPIM, and Liverpool Place Partnership will be championing the world-leading projects that are taking place in the region.
These include in Knowledge Quarter and the city’s healthcare sector, as well as the likes of Liverpool and Wirral Waters, Glass Futures and also the regeneration of many of the region’s towns.
Linking back to the sustainability agenda, the pioneering work along the coast to generate net zero energy will also be at the forefront of conversation, as will the Liverpool City Region’s freeport status.
Steve Rotheram added: “We go to MIPM with a fantastic story to tell and a glut of exciting and transformative projects that are ripe for investment. The Liverpool city region has limitless potential in a whole range of sectors, from advanced manufacturing to hydrogen and tidal power. We’ll be working to attract as much investment as possible to our region.”