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Attending this year’s MIPIM will be tough for many, but exposure at the event is key, says Rory Olcayto

Nottingham City Council made the tough decision not to go to MIPIM this year in face of the government cuts, but that’s not going to stop Team Nottingham, a private sector led team – including local practice CPMG Architects – representing the city.

It’s still the biggest property fair in the world, and austerity in Cannes, where MIPIM is held every year, is relative. There’s no yacht for Nottingham this year, for example. Indeed the council’s £30,000 MIPIM spend in 2009 was slammed by housing minister Grant Shapps just last week. More importantly, it won’t have the benefit of Invest in Nottingham, a major support organisation, behind it. But, as Team Nottingham member Tim Garratt of property firm Innes England writes on his blog: ‘We have some new blood this year and a great level of enthusiasm to step up to the plate.’ Who’d have thought the Big Society would first manifest itself at MIPIM? 

Yet the bottom line remains stark; a much smaller presence, a stand in the main exhibition and two events; a dinner and a drinks reception. Garratt adds: ‘Roll on March – and our opportunity to keep Nottingham on the international stage.’ Simply put, exposure, is the point. At least Nottingham is there.

Globalisation matters to the whole profession. London’s small practices can testify to that most clearly, but most British city firms can speak of profits wrung from international investment over the past 10 years.

But you’ve got to show off. This year Edinburgh is the only Scottish city at MIPIM, and this simple fact may reveal some wider truths that address both a slowdown in inward investment and Scotland’s dismal track record in exporting architecture, as highlighted by Malcolm Fraser (AJ 13.01.11). Last year Edinburgh debuted at number 27 (out of 36) in Cushman & Wakefield European Cities Monitor, which ranks the best business cities (London was top, Athens bottom).

Edinburgh is on a roll – it has an ebullient parliament, a recuperating financial industry, a few too many tourists and a growing rep as an ‘event city’. That’s why it’s at MIPIM. Glasgow, placed 29th in 2010, was, in 1990, the 10th best city in Europe to do business in. That was the year it was ‘City of Culture’, and, you could argue, its failure to build on that brand is reflected in its tumble down the charts.

If you Google ‘Glasgow MIPIM’ nothing coherent comes back. If you do the same for Manchester, you’ll get ‘Team Manchester out in force for MIPIM 2011’ and links to www.manchesteratmipim.com. Partners include Ian Simpson Architects, MBLA and Stephenson Bell.

Manchester comes 12th in the 2010 European City monitor, the next-placed British city after London, and up one from 13 in 2009. Given the effort Manchester puts into selling itself each year, this seems about right. Ignore the cynics: MIPIM does matter – more so if you’re there as part of a team, whether council-backed or private led. At least you don’t need a yacht this year.

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