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It seems crazy that only 10 months ago, we were counting down to the inaugural UKREiiF which presented us with the opportunity of 4000+ attendees, investors, developers, public sector and many familiar faces, all based on the fabulous Leeds dockside – right on our doorstep!

I am certain that many thought, what will it be like? Who will attend? Would it match up to MIPIM? and will it deliver? Well, for me personally, it most certainly did deliver – and way beyond my expectations. The event, created by The Built Environment Network attracted delegates from every major UK region, alongside Government, developers, investors, tech experts and more.

Maybe everyone was so elated to be networking again, maybe it was the unbelievable weather or maybe it was the show of confidence post pandemic amongst the built environment sector. Whatever it was, there was a great buzz in 2022 – and hopes are high for more sunshine and a vibrant atmosphere again this year.

Now, as we hurtle towards UKREiiF 2023, we can feel the excitement building again. The organisers have given early indications that this year’s event will be bigger and better than 2022. But what does this involve?

Built Environment Network hosted a series of regional launches last week where the organisers provided attendees with an overview of their plans for this year’s event. For Social’s Leeds team, the West Yorkshire launch was one not to be missed. We have taken a look at some of the key areas of focus for 2023:

The Magic Numbers

The inaugural UKREiiF event brought together over 4,000 delegates, with another 1,000 attendees from across the wider city attending fringe activity and events associated to the main UKREiiF forum.

According to a report by ARUP, the event delivered over £5m of economic benefit. Hotel occupancy in the city of Leeds was as high as 95% with delegates travelling into the UK to do business. Local suppliers were utilised as much as possible, whilst more than 50 fringe events across the city saw a huge increase in hospitality spend in the F&B arena.

Image-Nathan Spencer (Director of UKREiiF) & ARUP


A report generated by Loop has revealed that UKREiiF 2022 generated more than £1 million in social value, with an 81% return on investment. For 2023, organisers say we can expect over 6,500 delegates – an increase of over 2,000 from last year. – with more than 100 fringe events being developed across the city.

The number of stages has also increased from 14 in 2022, to 29 for 2023, bringing over 750 speakers sharing their knowledge and expertise. There will be an additional stage, ‘The Tiltyard Stage’ in the Innovation Zone. Our longstanding client Caddick Group will be hosting a variety of panel sessions in this area, bringing some lively and insightful debate.

For me, one of the most exciting new stages is the EDI & Youth Pavilion, which will see three-days of activity taking place. UKREiiF will be partnering with some of the UK’s leading industry groups who are driving the EDI agenda to deliver a programme packed with important knowledge share, impactful talks, and opportunities for young people to facilitate with industry leaders.

In 2022, there was a much younger, up-and-coming cohort at the event, attending alongside senior leaders. Is this something that we’ll see again in 2023? I certainly hope so – and overall, the organisers have really put the groundwork in to ensure more opportunities are up for grabs with much more pavilion space this year!

Themes to look out for

In 2023, there will be a continued focus on the event’s core themes of Levelling-Up, Net Zero, Innovation, Social Value and EDI.

One of the key areas in which I believe UKREiiF really succeeded, is providing a major platform and profile boost for the public sector. Word on the street is that this is only increasing in 2023. For example, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have taken a large pavilion this year, ensuring that they are at the forefront of conversations and have the platform to run through the region’s plans on key topics such as mass transit, net zero transition and the premium sites that are available. There is also a notable theme of innovation and new approaches to development being taken across all sectors which will be a core discussion point across the event.

We also see the welcome return of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Liverpool City Region, Invest Newcastle, Staffordshire County Council, Carlisle City Council, and many, many more – ensuring opportunities across the length and breadth of the UK are at the forefront of conversations.

The significant difference for this year, however, comes in the shape of an awards festival. In 2022, the awards ceremony was a very traditional, sit-down meal, however, this year organisers have promised a vibrant awards ceremony that brings together networking, pop-up food and beverage stalls, entertainment, games and more to truly create a more inclusive and diverse event.

This ‘festival’ will take place in Millennium Square on Tuesday 16th May. Will this type of event be a new way of delivering awards? I for one am excited about this more relaxed approach to what can sometimes feel like a forced activity.

More than just Happy Valley

The opportunity that UKREiiF presents to showcase the West Yorkshire region is HUGE. For those of us based here, we have a nationally leading, globally attractive trade show right on our doorstep!

Not only is the region responsible for one fifth of One Direction, the illustrious Happy Valley and the first female metro mayor in England, it also boasts a population of 2.3 million people, a workforce of 1.1 million people, and over 80,000 business, and a £57.9 billion regional economy which is larger than nine EU countries making it a great place to live and work and is home to some incredible, innovative, and inspirational businesses.

This is also the year of Leeds Culture 2023, aiming to raise Leeds’s profile internationally, creating economic growth and – crucially – creating better opportunities for people in the city to engage with the arts. In UKREiiF 2022’s closing remarks, there was a strong nod to Culture being a key part of the programme for 2023. With Leeds’ ambitious plans for Leeds2023, and Kirklees Year of Music 2023, running in parallel to the event this year, and with Calderdale Year of Culture 2024, and Bradford City of Culture 2025 on the horizon, it feels like a perfect opportunity to highlight the value culture brings to place and the built environment.

This is an incredibly exciting time to visit the region, make connections and see what the event has to offer.

I look forward to seeing you there!

If you’d like to find out more about how Social provides support at UKREiiF, and other events, check out our events page for more information.