Bob the Builder, a good brew and plenty of business, Lisa Ashurst finds it home from home at Mipim 2012 in Cannes.
My apartment is nothing flash but just a ten minute walk to the Palais, where Mipim takes place. I prefer an apartment to a hotel, you can make your brew in the morning just the way you like and after a long day of meetings and appointments it's great to come back to a home rather than just a room. Plus I have two people sharing with me which makes it much better value. If we rented the same apartment next week it would be a third of the price we paid for this week, but with 19,000 people attending you can see why they push the prices up.
I also notice Cannes has certainly got into the spirit of Mipim this year, with lots of building work going on in the town.
I pick up my delegate's pass and have a nosey as the final touches are being put to stands before the show opens tomorrow. I'm tickled to see the massive faces of Will Alsop, the architect responsible for the New Islington masterplan and Chips, Lord Rogers and others looming over the top of the Manchester Stand balcony. Qatar appears to have an enormous and very visible presence here, they'll be competing with the Russians for biggest and best stands and models. Last year the model of the winter Olympics town was bigger than my flat at home.
Having spent an hour turning the broadband hub off and on again in the flat with no joy, I went to the place where I know I can connect, a place called Le Crillion which is also the Manchester Bar, a place during Mipim where Manchester delegates can meet away from the Palais. During the day it is a hive of activity and meetings, and in the evenings it is probably one of the best places to come for a drink and to catch up with clients, colleagues and friends.
I've been in there half an hour and met up with a London-based architect friend of mine, who I haven't seen for over a year. She shows me some of the projects she's working on at the moment in Nottingham and Leicester.
It rains on Monday night. It's never rained for me in Cannes before.
Another cloudy day in Cannes but today is when Mipim gets going. I am really impressed with the Manchester stand this year, minimal but very confident. Marketing Manchester has got it bang on and lots of other Manchester delegates agree.
This year Arup has brought a new dimension to its 3D model Manchester map, it's now fully interactive and wireless. Simon from Arup shows me how it all works. There's a kinetic box which finds you and then allows you to control the map with your arms and hands. You go on a whistle-stop tour of Manchester and its major projects. I have great fun waving my arms around and zooming in on all the buildings.
I attend the Five Cities seminar, which Manchester joins in with Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg and Lyon. The main focus is to share knowledge and address how major cities can keep a competitive edge in these testing times. Jim O'Neill [chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management] provides the keynote, and to someone who stopped economics at A-level, he has one of those rare abilities to make big numbers make real sense to me.
I have a lovely quiet lunch in a café off La Crosiette. There might be thousands of people at Mipim but if you walk a street or two back from the La Crosiette, you'll find lovely quiet cafes serving excellent food and, importantly, free WiFi.
I am curious to see the afternoon stand event having heard some speculation that perhaps Mike Ingall, Allied London and Chris Ogelsby, Bruntwood are going to announce a joint development. This wasn't the case; instead they both provide updates for us, I am happy to hear Chris talk about Corridor Manchester and especially the news that Bruntwood is buying Manchester Science Parks. Mike presents his new scheme for Spinningfields, claiming he doesn't know who the tenant of future is, he is creating space that will allow the tenant to fit it out the specification and price point they need.
Things wind down around 5.30pm in the Palais and then people slope off to various receptions and prepare for dinners. I ended up with Jonathan Falkingham, Urban Splash and Pete Swift from Planit who have just heard the news Liverpool Waters has received unanimous consent so he was thrilled after two years of hard work as part of the project team. We are joined by Martin Stockley and we have a good chat putting the world to rights. Another great thing about Mipim is you will start a conversation with someone you know, then someone you don't know joins in and after ten minutes you've made another useful and new contact.
Finally the sun comes out and everyone has a spring in their step. I start the day with a call from a client back in Manchester to let me know Stephen Fry has just tweeted (positively) about some of their work. That's pretty good news to start the day.
The morning session on the stand is an update on First Street from Ken Knott, Ask and Ian Simpson, followed in the afternoon by an update and new movie from the Co-op on Noma. The difference from last year to this, is there's a much stronger sense that things are starting to get done. I loved the stand model which was Bob the Builder, created in Manchester.
One of the most useful aspects to attending Mipim is not only do you get comprehensive updates on the major projects in the city but you have access to the people delivering them. At any one time on the Manchester stand you have the likes of David Partridge of Argent; Mike Ingall, Allied London, David Pringle, Co-op; Sir Howard Bernstein, Tom Bloxham, Urban Splash, Nick Johnson, Urban Splash, Chris Oglesby, Bruntwood they are all there, up for a chat and importantly looking to do business.
Afternoon tea is served on the stand and it's a treat to drink Mr Scruff's tea from a proper mug. There's an art to a good brew and the Marketing Manchester team have nailed it. I want to try and get the Manchester Egg out here next; I think the property world at large can handle it.
Another big part of what makes Mipim special for me, is the chance to catch up with some of the people I worked with when I was at Urban Splash – architects and journalists from all over the country. I keep in touch with them through the year but here somehow you always bump into someone you know on the street and before you know it, you're making introductions with them.
Wednesday night is the What If Manchester event, very similar to last year's Pecha Kucha. Five brave souls stand up to a packed room to present their future visions for the city. Charmingly compered by Nick Johnson with a panel of judges that would have Cowell quaking in his boots of David Partridge, Felicity Goodey and Ken Knott, the event is good value and an opportunity for several of the businesses that support the Manchester team in Mipim to do their own bit. I'd really like to see this event opened up to a bigger audience though.
Thursday morning and my legs are wobbly but, chatting to people on the stand, it is clear I am not alone. Today is the last day and it's another busy one.
I spend an hour on the Manchester stand with a chap who has been tasted by the Government to try and make sense of Global Standards in Real Estate. It was a pleasure to talk him through Manchester's big projects, highlight the cooperation with universities and our private sector and introduce him to some of the city's key players.
I catch up with my clients OBI Property, they are out here for the first time, they'd organised meetings with contacts before they came out and I was pleased to hear from them that they've managed to do a good few deals and meet some new people who they probably would have spent months trying to arrange to meet up with back in the UK.
Thursday night is the We Are Ground Breaking Hang the DJ party and that is where I am heading to. David Norris, Faye Millar and Steve Smith create the most talked-about event at Mipim; people I don't even know ask me how they can get on the guest list for it.
So that's Mipim 2012, I have a handbag full of business cards with lots of new contacts and business leads to chase up when I come home. I am fully up to speed on Manchester's big projects and I have even managed to win a new client while here. I have to really tip my hat to Marketing Manchester for once again delivering an outstanding Mipim.
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