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Every March for over 30 years, anyone who was anyone in the global real estate community took out their sunglasses and gathered in Cannes for MIPIM – the world’s premier property event – to network, do deals, catch up with the latest trends – and officially kick off the real estate year. But in March 2020 business got its first bitter taste of the enormity of COVID-19 when MIPIM was abruptly suspended.
Now, however, it’s one of the first big business gatherings to come back ‘in-person’, with a shortened version from 7-8 September. The property world will be watching closely – as will other events. With this backdrop, RONAN VASPART, Managing Director of MIPIM, talked to Richard Stephens, Editor of Poland Today, about lessons learnt, the Polish presence in Cannes – and what participants can expect from the MIPIM September edition.

Poland Today is media patron of MIPIM September edition

Richard: What will be different about MIPIM 2021 in September, and what will be the same? 

Ronan: It’s been more than 18 months since the international real estate community had the opportunity to gather at a face-to-face event, and it was one of my promises that we’ll get the geographies back together again as soon as possible. That’s why we are organizing the MIPIM September edition, but it will be a bit different – it will be two days rather than the normal four days we organize in March. All the communication and exchanges between the different stakeholders will be adapted due to the crisis we have all faced. I’m sure everyone will talk about how to relaunch the market, about the new milestones in terms of ESG, how digital will transform the user experience etc. But what will be the same – and this is really important – is that we will keep all the main elements of our DNA. MIPIM is an event in Cannes which gathers lots of geographies. This year will be mainly participants from Europe and the Middle East – physically speaking, because digitally speaking we’ll have participants from Asia and America as well. It will be fully focused on networking, networking, networking, networking, so that people have exchanges, negotiations etc. There will be the exhibition of course, and content, because there is no MIPIM without a prestigious conference programme. 

Ronan Vaspart, Managing Director of MIPIM, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has made both the real estate community and the events world much more aware of their CSR responsibilities. Before joining MIPIM in 2017, Ronan was with Accor Hotels for almost 12 years.
Ronan Vaspart, Managing Director of MIPIM, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has made both the real estate community and the events world much more aware of their CSR responsibilities. Before joining MIPIM in 2017, Ronan was with Accor Hotels for almost 12 years.

What has MIPIM learned from the whole COVID situation – what do you know now that you didn’t know before? And what will change in the future because of COVID, for events in general and for MIPIM specifically?

In the future we will have to work more on hybrid formats. Why do I say that? I talk to clients daily and they tell me: “We want to go back to physical events.” We are in an industry where people need to meet together. But we know that we will have to hybridize them a bit and include digital. That’s why in September the content will be live-streamed for people who are not able to travel, so they will benefit from some features of MIPIM 2021. Regarding the industry, we have learnt – as Ban Ki Moon said a couple of years ago – that “there is no planet B”. I think the urgency of climate change, of the pandemic risk etc, will speed up the implementation of ESG in the strategies of all real estate companies. Clearly people are much more involved and concerned about what’s happening to the planet. They are asking how they can build in a more resilient way and what the clear needs of the end users are. What do they want in an office, hospital or residential development? So ESG will be even more important and strategic than it used to be in the past.

This is why the main themes of MIPIM September are ‘New World, New Era’ and ‘Time to Reconnect’. The three pillars of sustainable development are: People, Planet, Performance. 

Your new logo says ‘Act responsibly with MIPIM’. Why did you choose this message?

‘Act Responsibly with MIPIM’ is a label of all the sustainable actions we have in the MIPIM programme, as an event organizer. Sustainable development is more and more important for the real estate industry so for me it’s really important that – as an event organizer – our clients and participants are attending an event which is clearly involved in a CSR strategy. Actions that will improve our carbon footprint tie in with ‘Act Responsibly with MIPIM’. And we are clearly engaging the community to act responsibly as well. We have a MIPIM action plan based on the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. We selected five of them for MIPIM, which are: gender equality; decent work and economic growth; responsible consumption and production; climate action; and partnership for the goals. We have specific actions which will be organized in September and which will be improved in March to show that not only the real estate industry needs to evolve, but the events industry needs to evolve as well. 

The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, talks with Richard Stephens, editor of Poland Today during MIPIM 2019
The Mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, talks with Richard Stephens, editor of Poland Today during MIPIM 2019

What are some key features of MIPIM in September? 

The MIPIM September edition will be a major event for international investors, for example: AXA, Redevco, Ivanhoé Cambridge, Crédit Suisse, Qatar Investment Authority, FGIS, First Abu Dhabi Bank, AP2, APG, Capitaland International, and from Germany: Commerzbank, Deka Immobilien Investment, Union Investment Real Estate, Deutsche Pfandbriefbank AG and Areal Group Wealth Management – they will all be present at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, amongst many others. In terms of exhibiting cities, there will be: Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Riga, Poznan, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Dijon, Nice, Grenoble, as well as Barcelona, Malaga and Murcia. Then we have key players in real estate such as: Gecina, Nexity, ICN, Skanska Commercial Development Europe, Bouygues Immobilier, CBRE, JLL and RICS, and on the hospitality side there will be Accor, Intercontinental Hotels Group, TUI Hotels & Resorts, Prizma, Aranil and Covivio Hotels. These are just some of the big, regular names taking part. 

Innovation will also be in the spotlight with Saint Gobain, Buildingminds, Kel Foncier, Drooms, Solaris Tende, Rebuilding Network, Nuvolo, and OfficeRnD. MIPIM September Edition participants will also be able to meet the 12 finalists of the ‘Propel by MIPIM’ startup competition who will travel to Cannes to compete in the grand final.

Last but not least, we have a really great conference programme with key speakers such as   Brune Poirson, Chief Sustainability Officer for Accor – who used to be a minister in the French government; Ronan Bole, Operations Director France for Amazon; Peter Freeman CBE, Chair of Homes England; Andy Poppink, CEO of EMEA Markets at JLL; Lord Grimstone of Boscobel, Minister, Department for International Trade for the UK; and Aleksandra Njaguli, Global Head of ESG Real Estate for DWS in Germany.

The Warsaw stand at MIPIM has traditionally been the centre point of Poland’s presence. Other exhibitors from Poland have included the cities of Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław
The Warsaw stand at MIPIM has traditionally been the centre point of Poland’s presence. Other exhibitors from Poland have included the cities of Gdańsk, Katowice, Kraków, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław

When I first started attending MIPIM about 15 years ago Poland was quite a small element at MIPIM. Now it seems to me to be quite a strong element. How does MIPIM perceive the Poland delegation of exhibitors and attendees and how important is Poland for MIPIM?

Poland is always a growing country at MIPIM. It is in the top 10 countries represented in terms of number of delegates, and this year it will be even stronger. Poland is important because it has major and audacious developments – which is why, by the way, we always have Polish finalists in the MIPIM Awards and again this year with two major developments from Poland (see below). Investors are very interested in the warehouse, industrial and logistics sectors. I have been told by investors that the growth in warehouse space has been increasing by something like 25% each of the past few years, so clearly investors are seeking in Poland some key asset classes to invest in, like the industrial market. 

What can exhibitors and attendees from Poland gain from coming to MIPIM? 

I think there are three or four main topics: the first one is to meet the entire real estate planet – because MIPIM remains the most important event in the property market and built environment. It’s a way to meet a lot of clients, investors and prospects in the same place at the same time. For Poland the benefit is also to demonstrate to the international community that Poland is really a place to invest in. That’s why a strong Polish presence is important. I think it’s a way to show that Poland is a country which is evolving a lot, and it’s not only for investors but also for occupiers. A good example is Panattoni developing projects for Amazon. Poland needs to be well represented in the centre of decision-making, for occupiers to select Poland as opposed to other countries. And last but not least – and it’s not only for Poland – but quite often I have people saying that if they want to meet the entire Polish real estate community they need to go to Cannes because everyone is there – even the political leaders – and it’s easier to meet them in Cannes than it is to see them in Poland. You save time – in 2, 3 or 4 days you meet people that normally you would take a month or more to meet. 

MIPIM 2019, the 30th edition of the event, attracted over 28,000 professionals from around the world
MIPIM 2019, the 30th edition of the event, attracted over 28,000 professionals from around the world

What sort of size will MIPIM September be compared to a regular MIPIM?

I am crystal clear with that. MIPIM September edition will not be the same size as a normal March edition. Physically speaking – because digitally speaking it’s another story – I’m expecting something like 5000 delegates. Why? For two main reasons. The first is – as I told you before – Americans and Asians will not be allowed to travel to Cannes in September. They will be there digitally, but not physically. And the second element – and also why we named it MIPIM September edition – is that the big companies will not bring the same size of delegation as they normally bring for MIPIM in March. That’s because we’ve had an economic crisis in the last couple of years. So the quantity will not be the same, but the quality will be, as we have lots of CEOs and political leaders just like before. 

Will MIPIM come back in March 2022 and remain that way in the future? 

Indeed. MIPIM September is to reconnect after the lockdowns and to prepare for the March edition. March suits the real estate world because it’s quite often at MIPIM in March that companies launch their annual strategies. So MIPIM in March will be back from 2022.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, I’d like to say that Poland has two finalists in the MIPIM Awards this year and all registered participants will be able to vote for them. The jury – which by the way included Katarzyna Zawodna-Bijoch, the CEE CEO of Skanska Commercial Development Europe – did its part, now it’s up to the public to vote. So if Polish participants want the two Polish finalists to win, they need to vote – the voting has been open since the beginning of August and anyone registered for MIPIM September edition, either physically or online, is eligible to vote. Last year two projects from Poland won awards (Granary Island in Gdańsk and Monopolis in Łódź – ed.) – perhaps there could be a repeat this year!

-End of interview-

The MIPIM Awards – two projects from Poland

The MIPIM Awards is viewed by many as the Oscars of the real estate world. The competition has taken place every year since 1991 and in that time there have been 5 winning projects from Poland, with Poland ranking 11th out of 33 countries. You can read more here. This year there are two nominated projects from Poland out of 46 nominations in 11 categories. 

Category: Best Cultural & Sports Infrastructure

Yacht Park & Marina Yacht Park, Gdynia

Yacht_Park_&_Marina_Yacht_Park (1)

Developer: Polski Holding Nieruchomości S.A.

Architect: Arch Deco

Other: DORACO (General Contractor)

This scheme is situated in beautiful scenery overlooking the marina and mooring yachts in the coastal city of Gdynia. Yacht Park is a luxurious residential complex which, alongside a modern marina for 120 yachts, features a promenade with boutiques and restaurants. The project has changed the cityscape, becoming the new face of Gdynia, with a focus on high quality and precision in every design detail. Yacht Park offers 135 apartments situated in six five-storey buildings.


Category: Best Mixed-Use Development 

Elektrownia Powiśle, Warsaw

MIPIM 2020 - MIPIM AWARDS 2020 FINALISTS - BEST OFFICE AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT - Elektrownia Powiśle - Office - Warsaw, Poland

Developer: White Star Real Estate

Investor: Tristan Capital Partners and White Star Real Estate

Architect: APA Wojciechowski, Belotto Design and VSF-Creative

Elektrownia Powiśle is a mixed-use revitalization project that comprises leisure, entertainment and retail, three office buildings, apartments and a hotel. The pre-war power plant has been restored and is surrounded by greenery and open public piazzas. The Elektrownia Powiśle retail offer includes international brands such as Urban Outfitters, American Vintage, Weekday and COS, as well as local brands, Polish designers, pop-up and concept stores. Over 20 culinary concepts – including a Food Hall and restaurants – are part of the scheme. The Beauty Hall is the first of its kind in Poland, providing over 300 beauty treatments.


Conference topics at MIPIM September edition include:

  • Planet: New World, New Era – Finance, how to achieve the impossible?
  • Innovation: Tech for change – Climate change comes to RE’s rescue.
  • Post-pandemic city: business districts and workspaces.
  • What’s hot in logistics?
  • Performance: New World, New Era – why ESG matters today.
  • Green & thriving neighbourhood – a pathway to net zero featuring the 15-minute city.

About MIPIM:

MIPIM is an international property event held annually in Cannes, France, every March. The edition in March 2019 was the 30th edition and the last before COVID-19 hit, attracting over 28,000  participants from more than 100 countries. MIPIM is owned by RX Global (Reed Exhibitions) which organizes over 400 events across 43 sectors in 22 countries. 

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Written by: Richard Stephens