UKREiiF – The Real Deal?
Many of us have travelled the length and breadth of the UK and beyond to attend conferences, events, dinners, awards, and talks. In the trade & investment and real estate sector, MIPIM, the annual international property showcase in Cannes, is one especially high-profile event each year.
However, over the past few months, there has been a new kid in town; The UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF). The event, which took place at the Royal Armouries and Leeds Dock, Leeds, aimed to attract inward investment, generate economic growth, and drive a more sustainable and inclusive culture within the property and construction industry.
In the lead up to the event, there was a lot of excitement – and a few questions. What would UKREiiF look like? Would it match up to MIPIM? Did it have to match up? Would there be an international presence? And, in true Yorkshire style, what will the weather be like?!
At Social, we know how critical events and networking are to creating opportunities, driving innovation, and forging strong relationships. UKREiiF presented us with the opportunity of 4000+ attendees, investors, developers, public sector, and familiar faces all based up on the Leeds fabulous dockside – right on our doorstep! For Social, it was an event not to be missed, but did it live up to its expectations? We were there through all three days of the event to find out all about it.
Look and feel
Heading to UKREiiF on the Tuesday (18 May), the sun shone brightly. Water taxis offered a unique way to travel to the event and proved that, with the added bonus of sunshine, maybe Leeds and the Cannes waterfront do share some similarities.
On entering the event, you were immediately struck by the well-planned set up of pavilions, seamless registration, and a high turnout of attendees.
UKREiiF kicked off with a keynote speech, provided by Mayor Tracy Brabin, assuring delegates that this event will have a very different look and feel to that of MIPIM. Particularly noting the absence of the blue suit brigade and promising delegates that every panel session will be more diverse. There was also a much younger, up-and-coming cohort at the event, attending alongside senior leaders in a way that MIPIM doesn’t match. Is this something that could be further encouraged in 2023? There was also a strong nod to Culture as being a key part of the programme for next year. With Leeds’ ambitious plans for Leeds2023 running in parallel to the event next year, it feels like a perfect opportunity to highlight the value culture brings to place and the built environment.
The pavilions and panel sessions were often standing room only, the exhibition zone was busy too with many of the exhibitors commenting on the high level of footfall, particularly on Day 1 and Day 2.
Leeds Dock itself looked visually impressive. It was a fantastic opportunity for Leeds to showcase the ongoing regeneration in the city centre and revitalised waterside incorporating Leeds Dock and the Royal Armouries area. With works now progressing at pace elsewhere on the South Bank, there was a real sense of purpose about its location.
There was a buzz throughout the three days of the event. People seemed genuinely pleased to be networking again and proud to be showcasing their opportunities on UK soil. The calibre of speakers was fantastic, with the event being comparatively UK focussed (more so than international). Whilst some delegates were happy with this, others that I spoke to felt that it was missing that international platform. Could UKREiiF work with cohesively with MIPIM on complementary – but different – events in the future?
This year, UKREiiF’s core themes focussed on Levelling-Up, Net Zero, Innovation, Social Value and EDI. Many of the panel sessions were complementary to these main themes. There was huge engagement across the public and private sectors with a strong focus on Levelling-Up and the critical role that the real estate sector has in driving economic and social value.
One of the very pleasant surprises across the three days was the exposure given to Local Authorities. UKREiiF gave them a much bigger platform that they may have been previously held at other events. For example, Bradford Council partnered with the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development (UKBCSD), to run the event’s Net Zero Pavilion. This approach ensured Bradford was at the forefront of clean growth conversations and gave Bradford opportunities to run through its plans for the District’s economic recovery and sustainable development.
Other, smaller local authorities were seen throughout the event programme meaning that they too, had opportunities across the event for greater collaboration and share of voice.
There are vast opportunities for UKREiiF to grow over the next 12 months with much more pavilion space up for grabs in 2023. However, for me personally, the programme did feel very busy – it does run the risk of diluting some of the messaging. There were a lot of talks, panels and, fringe events that I would have liked to attend but with there being so much choice, it felt like you couldn’t attend everything, even if you wanted to.
Social are proud to have supported a number of our clients at the inaugural UKREiiF, contributing to the messaging ahead of the event; at the event itself and at fringe events. Our longstanding client Caddick Developments sponsored the Next Generation Future pavilion, and we ran their sell-out sheds sessions on the Tuesday and Thursday, which generated some lively and insightful debate. For Bradford Council, we supported them throughout the week on their messaging and lined up a variety of media opportunities around their new investment prospectus. And for Mott MacDonald, we conceived and delivered a brilliant session about the benefits of promoting diversity in placemaking, which brought together experts in the fields of education and skills, technology; culture; and place.
The anecdotal feedback for UKREiiF across LinkedIn and Twitter has been very positive, with Leeds City Council already reporting heightened investor and occupier interest on the back of the event. UKREiiF itself have put a pause on direct discussions due to exponential interest in businesses looking to sponsor and exhibit.
For me personally, it was a hugely rewarding few days, meeting new and old contacts, listening to new strategies and plans and appreciating the talent and enthusiasm of the real estate industry. I feel that the event will only get bigger and will be one not to miss in 2023!
I look forward to seeing you there.
If you’d like to find out more about how Social provides support at UKREiiF, MIPIM and other events, please contact senior account manager Katie Paterson at firstname.lastname@example.org