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A week of MIPIM and PROPEL events place innovation at the heart of the new built environment at 2020’s first real estate summit

 Keynotes from Apple’s Steve Wozniak and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy focus on a talent-driven and collaborative future, as the public and private sector collided to find new solutions.

Talent and sustainability are key for reinvigorating our cities in a post-Covid future, which must not fear change, delegates heard at the inaugural Paris Real Estate Week (14 to 17 September). And while powerful trends – from AI to climate change – abound, humans are still in charge of their destiny delegates were told.

Kicking off with Propel by MIPIM, an event formerly known as MIPIM Proptech Europe, Paris Real Estate Week (the Week) attracted around 1,500 decision-makers working in the property, technology, and public authority sectors. Some 6,000 online participants followed the show on the Paris Real Estate Week online platform and also on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

The Week brought together some of the world’s leading property protagonists alongside key figures in politics and technology for the first international real estate summit of 2020, representing an inaugural opportunity for the sector to debate its post-Covid strategy.

Meanwhile, the 30th MIPIM Awards saw a grand gala dinner combine with video messages from all over the world, in a phygital event capturing the mood of the times. Twelve prizes in total were given to some of the industry’s most innovative projects.

In parallel, the Paris Real Estate Week Online Platform enabled participants from all over the world to engage with the event’s essential content and network together.

Propel by MIPIM, held on September 14 and 15, explored innovation’s crucial role in times of unprecedented crisis. A keynote from Steve Wozniak underlined the user and talent-centric theme of the conference.

“People who had entrepreneurial sense always inspired me. Young innovators are often locked out of major success today because you need a big, powerful company to get your product out into the world,” he said.

Business leaders also provided essential insights into the consequences of Covid. For Meka Brunel, CEO of Gecina, the pandemic has been accelerating three key trends, namely “urbanisation, digitalisation and sustainability”. She added: “They are affecting us personally, but we have to make them work collectively.”

Added Brendan Wallace, co-founder of Fifth Wall: “These trends are having a profound effect on real estate. You now have to think like a sociologist. Landlords that take a forward-looking view – such as building brands – are going to be well-positioned going into the future.”

Elsewhere, the key trends of urban planning and technological advancement saw themes as diverse as 5G and 6G, mobility, density and even the countryside come under the spotlight. Climate change proved a key topic which elicited some powerful responses. Said Guillaume Poitrinal, co-founder of Woodeum: “The environmental crisis will claim a lot more lives than Covid-19. I want to build projects with as low a carbon footprint as possible throughout the lifecycle of the building.”

In a session about proptech funding opportunities, Rudy Aernoudt, Chief Economist, European Commission, lamented the fact that there were no proptech ‘unicorns’ in Europe. “In the US, there is 34 times more funding available. 44% of EU-financed scale-ups leave the EU,” he said.

But Dirk Paelinck, Chairman, European PropTech Association, was positive about the outlook. “Despite liquidity challenges, firms which have already invested in start-ups will not let them fail; and Covid accelerates the need for digital solutions.”

Propel by MIPIM also hosted the new edition of the Startup Competition, rewarding the most promising and innovative start-ups in an effort to support the property ecosystem. Winners included CubiCasa in the Data category; Inviertis for Investment; spaceOS for UserExperience, while ThermoTerra picked up the prize for Sustainability.


A day of conferences, the MIPIM Urban Forum, were dedicated to the themes of cities on Wednesday, 16 September. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy told delegates in his keynote speech to “love cities!” at the start of a dynamic day of conferences combining political insight, governance goals, and blueprints for the urban centres of the future.

“The ideal city doesn’t exist,” said Sarkozy. “I believe more in the power of difference. We should love cities in all their differences. That’s what makes them beautiful. There is no single model.”

He added: “We must put a stop to Western decadence by rediscovering a love of big projects, and innovate. Let’s create “Greater Lyon”, and “Greater Marseille”, to make Marseille the capital of the Mediterranean. We should bring the TGV train to Le Havre, because Le Havre is part of the port of Greater Paris.”

In a challenge to his audience, President Sarkozy insisted that Covid-19 would not have an impact on cities of the future.

The day continued with key public and private sector voices debating how to defend the quality of life in the world’s increasingly crowded cities. Leaders including Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome, also described the lessons of Covid-19.

Said Raggi: “The health crisis has directly affected our cities; resilience is required. The 3 Rs are key: reinvestment, regeneration and to restart. In the Covid era we need fast, effective and above all flexible responses.”

Hidalgo explained: “Essential workers can’t be pushed out of cities where speculation is rife. They can’t be obliged to commute huge distances. These are very important lessons and influence how we manage cities.”

The event saw the launch of the Guide to Tourism and Real Estate Investments in Italy, prefaced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio, and edited by Re Mind under the patronage of Enit and Fondazione Patrimonio Comune Anci.

“Making cities more human” was the main topic of the Forum de la Ville, which brought together key leaders in real estate and several elected representatives. Central topics ranged from the “15-minute city”, to transport, density, medium-sized cities, global warming, and mixed-use trends.

Grégory Doucet, Mayor of Lyon described the three major challenges for the city of tomorrow as “rethinking daily mobility and reconfiguring public spaces”, as well as “giving greater importance to the quality of our living spaces …and transforming urban planning into a shared art at the service of nature and people”.

Said Valérie Pécresse, President of the Ile-de-France region: “We want to make homeworking the new norm (at least one or two days a week), in order to smooth out rush hours in public transport. We are going to home-work, home-educate, home-consult”.

For Carole Delga, President of Conseil Régional Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée: “The ambition of the Occitanie region is to become the first region with a negative energy balance by 2025”.

The Young Talent Networking lunch, in partnership with the Institut Choiseul, encouraged networking as well as showcasing a couple of success stories. Jaebadiah Gardner, Founder & CEO, GardnerGlobal, said: “I wish I could be more positive about the US right now but being a black American is difficult. We continue to invest, in any case, in our projects and communities. I have created a business model that takes into account social justice, but actually generates returns.”

The Week concluded with a timely focus on the future of tourism with The Hospitality Summit organised in partnership with MKG Consulting at the Pullman Eiffel Tower. This event rallied investors, hotel owners and leaders from the public and private property sector to formulate recovery strategies, without fearing the dynamics of change. Meanwhile, the Gend’Her Breakfast addressed real estate gender balance, led by philosopher Julia de Funès.

“Paris Real Estate Week proved to be the property industry’s first port of call to discuss Covid strategies, as well as shaping dynamic plans to drive the sector’s positive future. It showed once again that innovation remains real estate’s beating heart. It’s an appropriate metaphor, because our human-centred industry has never been more acutely tasked with making sure that sustainability and wellness become its core goals,” said Filippo Rean, Director of the Real Estate Division, Reed MIDEM.

Live conference sessions will be available in replay on the Paris Real Estate Week Online Platform until mid-October on www.parisrealestateweek.com

MIPIM 2021 will take place March 16-19 in Cannes.


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