Planit present at the Pecha Kucha event on Tuesday night
Planit present at the Pecha Kucha event on Tuesday night

MIPIM Diary 2011

From men in orange cycling suits to news of the Evergreen fund's first investment, Lisa Ashurst was there to see and hear it all at the global property convention in Cannes this week.

Read Lisa's diary below

In addition you can find images, videos and diaries from Marketing Manchester, organiser of the Manchester at MIPIM delegation, at the following links:

  • Photos A selection of Manchester at MIPIM photos is shown in a gallery below
  • Blogs
  • Video


The Manchester Stand was already busy with the city's property professionals when I arrived for the first of the two events on Tuesday. Sir Howard Bernstein kicked off by introducing a short film from one of Manchester's Nobel Laureate winners, the inventors of graphene, the thinnest material in the world. The film set the tone for the rest of the day, and I suspect the week. Manchester is reclaiming itself as the place for modern science and invention.

The first presentation by Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester and Angie Robinson, chief executive of Midas, outlined the new, streamlined 'Manchester family'. They talked about the strength of the public and private sector partnerships in the city being crucial to meet the targets and goals set out in the Greater Manchester Strategy and how the new Local Enterprise Partnership will fit into that delivery. Andrew announced that 90 people from the private sector have applied for the nine LEP board positions, proof that Manchester businesses know they have a key role to play to support the ambitions of the city's leadership.

Next up was the four cities conference, Manchester standing shoulder to shoulder with Barcelona, Amsterdam and Hamburg. All four cities have similar GDPs and all four cities are ambitious to take their place on the world stage. Manchester-born Jim O Neill, chairman of asset management at Goldman Sachs, set us straight on the world economy. Jim coined the acronym BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – several years ago, he has now added four more countries as the new big players in the world economy – Korea, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey. Jim tells the 150-strong crowd that combined these countries economies will grow to £16tn dollars, that's five times the size of the US GDP. China's GDP alone is £5.9tn. Figures like this are almost incomprehensible to me, and it shows how Europe is no longer the centre of world trade. Manchester's place in that world economy, like the other three cities taking part in the conference, will depend upon our ability to keep a competitive edge, to become a place where the businesses of those countries want work with and invest.

Sir Howard's said the development of the labour market in the region is crucial; a skilled work force will attract the jobs needed to help Manchester grow.

The final event of the day saw Mike Emmerich from the Commission for the New Economy underline the importance of the fostering innovation and invention, and to do that, Manchester needs to look at new ways of funding the projects that will create the opportunities for knowledge-based organisations to make Manchester their home. The days of gap finance are over, and Manchester is looking at new models to get the funds to do what it wants to do.

Sarah Whitney, executive director of government and infrastructure at CB Richard Ellis outlined one of these new funding models, the Evergreen Fund, which is providing capital support to the Soapworks development at the former Colgate site in Salford among its first investments.

The Soapworks scheme will see 400,000 sq ft of new office, retail and residential space creating 3000 new jobs.

The day ended with the arrival of 100 cyclists at the Palais des Festivales. Headed by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, riding one of his own bikes, the cyclists, including Urban Splash director Simon Gawthorpe, set off from London last Friday, and raised over £250,000 for charity.

Wednesday and Thursday

I arrived on the Manchester stand on Wednesday morning to be greeted by a wall full of beautiful baby pictures. The reason was to celebrate that IVF was invented in Oldham and there have been 5.5m people born into the world because of that.

The first stand presentation was made by Bruntwood CEO, Chris Oglesby, who talked about his plans, working with Manchester Science Parks, to transform the former Royal Eye Hospital on Oxford Road into much needed space specifically for research, development and clinical trials companies. Chris also highlighted the £1m Eco Cities project Bruntwood is working on with the University of Manchester to look at ways of adapting building to meet the challenges of climate change.

Chris was followed by Robin Phillips, finance director at Siemens who outlined the major investment the company is making at its Princess Road site. The site is to become a global hub for the organisation to solve the very practical problem of bringing off-shore generated power on to shore efficiently and cost effectively.

In the afternoon Steve Warrener, finance director at Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, outlined plans to redevelop Manchester Victoria station. I can't wait to see the many beautiful parts of the station that are currently hidden revitalised, this includes the three storeys of space above the concourse into new commercial office space; at present it is largely unused. And I will be delighted to see the horrible staircase up to the arena removed.

The Co-operative Group then revealed the name of its £800m masterplan for the 20-acre site close to Victoria station and the home of the new company headquarters to be NOMA. It's a huge scheme bringing major investment to that side of Manchester, it'll be 10 to 15 years in the making but the new 300,000 sq ft HQ will be completed by September 2012.

I have to admit I don't like the name at all but the plans are impressive.

The second day at MIPIM once again saw Manchester talk about its ideas for the future, looking to provide the facilities and space to allow knowledge, invention and innovation to thrive.

Peter Saville summed it up for me when he said that Manchester is becoming a modern city for the 21st Century in the way it was the first modern city in the 19th Century.

Thursday morning featured talks from Tom Bloxham and Alex Poots, Manchester International Festival. Tom spoke about how culture is important to the city and the individual, it is people who after all chose were the live or decide to bring their company to a city, and Tom's view is that culture in all its forms is should be encouraged and celebrated. Alex outlined the three commissions already announced for this summer's MIF and we only have a week or so to wait to find out the rest of the programme. He hinted that there will be a £30m international singer and a mega rap star coming to MIF but sadly he wouldn't reveal anymore to us. Alex also said that this year's festival has attracted three times more foreign investment than the previous festival, which I think means we will be in for a proper feast of arts, music and theatre.

Ken Knott treated us to 21st Century Ask on Thursday afternoon as he outlined the reworked master plan for First Street. We already know about the £20m new building that will be created for the new home of the Library Theatre and Cornerhouse and Ken confirmed this would be ready for spring/summer 2014. There's currently an architectural competition underway for the design of the building, which will also feature 50,000 sq ft of outside performance space. As the Co-op is bringing 20 acres at the opposite side of the city back to life, Ask is bringing 20 acres at the southern end of the city. In addition to a new 250,000 sq ft building providing office space, for which Ken says funding will be in place by the end of the year, there are six further plots at First Street which will house a mixture of uses from retail to boutique hotels and from student homes to affordable office space.

For me MIPIM this year was about Manchester stepping up a gear and looking to the future, while it is impossible for me to ignore or forget the harsh reality being faced by many people right now, (while out here the council passed its budget cuts) what I take away from it is a sense of optimism, that there is a plan.

The plan is not going to be realised overnight but Manchester has shown again its resilience and based on the 100 and more people attending the stand events, the rest of the UK and world are keen to do with business with us.

On the stand I spoke with Russians, French and Spanish people all impressed with my hometown, many of them are going to visit, and one chap even told me he was going to moving here. That'll do me.

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