MIPIM 2018 has begun and The Lawyer’s MIPIM columns are back. The first installment comes from DLA Piper global co-chair of real estate, Antoine Mercier.

Antoine Mercier
DLA Piper global co-chair of real estate Antoine Mercier

The first day of MIPIM sets the tone for the rest of the week and we started with glorious sunshine and a surprising number of delegates already at events from early in the day. The confidence in the industry – despite talk of us being in a ‘prolonged late stage of the cycle’ – is evident from not just the sheer number of people in attendance, but the number of people who flew in on Monday in order to take full advantage of the conference.

So many in fact, that getting a table at a restaurant for a small informal dinner on Monday proved something of a challenge…

DLA Piper’s first event was a 09:00 developer breakfast, and taking a walk along the Jetée it was clear that the many other boats had breakfast events and the cafes along the Croisette that are the stalwart casual MIPIM meeting spots were also fairly busy, fairly early.

Tuesday morning is one of my favourite times at MIPIM – the buzz and excitement of the start of the conference build by the hour, but you still have enough space that you can navigate the bunker or a stretch of the Croisette without needing to allow yourself an extra half hour to get through the crowds and have impromptu chats with people you meet along the way.

By lunchtime almost everyone from our DLA Piper team was present, and the town itself has swelled in numbers to be unrecognisable from the day before. After meeting some of my colleagues and enjoying lunch with a client we were thrown into the afternoon. This is when it really starts…  The Jetée is a mass of events and gatherings everywhere you look.

Not to be outdone by any other boats, our Belgian, CEE, Nordic and French teams all hosted cocktail receptions and needless to say that throughout Cannes, stocks of rosé wine and beer were that much lighter by the end of the day.

Putting low stocks of beer aside, I always try to allow myself two hours on Tuesday without meetings – a tricky thing to achieve, but doing this is the only way that you can get into the bunker and the pavilions and actually take a look around.

I was really impressed – every year is bigger and better than the last one, but this year both the scale and the professionalism were second to none. And what was everyone excited about? Innovation has been the word that I’ve heard again and again and largely this is via technology.

Property EU’s logistics outlook talked about how e-commerce, robotics, 3D printing are shaping the industry and the Urban Land Institute and PwC’s Emerging Trends launch also picked up on how real estate companies are using technology to give themselves the competitive edge.

The real estate industry can be slow to embrace change, but now that we’re awake to the potential that technology offers the appetite is palpable. As one panelist put it, big data is real estate’s new oil.