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The DebREiiF: we’ve (thankfully) moved on from asking whether Leeds is the new MIPIM

Planning Communications and Consultation

By Tali Robinson & Ben Monteith

This time last week UKREiiF (The UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum) drew to a close for its third year. Since 2022, we’ve seen the new UK property conference move from ‘what is it?’ to ‘could this replace MIPIM one day?’ to an event that even torrential rain couldn’t keep 13,203 delegates from attending. Here’s our recap of the 2024 show and our predictions for 2025.


The UKREiiF organisers will have considered it an exceptionally successful event: final figures were 13,203 delegates – up from 7,500 in 2023 and approximately 3-4,000 in 2022 – with 364 organisations having taken up paid-for sponsorship/content hosting slots. That’s a lot of organisations willing to find budget for both tickets and thought leadership opportunities, which amply demonstrates how quickly UKREiiF has embedded itself as a must-attend, must-be-seen-at event - one that the industry wants to position itself around.

Can it maintain the momentum? Our view is: yes, undoubtedly. In fact, a number of Leeds hotels for the week of UKREiiF 2025 have already sold out.  

This year, we heard of delegates having to book hotel rooms and Airbnbs across Wakefield, York, Bradford and even Manchester, such was the demand. We’d likewise expect content, sponsorship and speaker opportunities for 2025 to begin selling immediately. UKREiiF expanded its space significantly this year and has plans to activate the floating pavilions of Leeds Dock next year.

Attendees came from across the built environment – real estate and infrastructure – and from companies of all shapes and sizes. Local authorities and regional marketing agencies were out in force, with the likes of London, Manchester, West Midlands, Tees Valley, the South West all taking substantial pavilions or spaces. There were also developers aplenty, particularly those focused on regeneration opportunities. Investors and lenders were much more prominent than last year, including L&G, Phoenix Group and the National Infrastructure Bank, although the event primarily focused on UK investment opportunities.

There were more international attendees than in previous years and this seems likely to grow. The clear distinction with MIPIM is that any international investors were solely focused on UK opportunities – while, at MIPIM,  you will see, for example, Japanese investors speaking to US developers about schemes in France. This is not a bad thing; just a difference that should be weighed up.

As an election year – although no one knew quite how close the election would be when the week began – UKREiiF 2024 made a significant effort to engage political stakeholders. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of Labour and the Shadow Housing and Levelling Up Secretary, opened the event (Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, closed last year’s), while Minister for Investment Lord Johnson was prominently outspoken throughout the conference. UKREiiF also issued free tickets to prospective parliamentary candidates, meaning almost 100 made an appearance – we’d expect to see more councillors, MPs and assembly members next year as this becomes an increasingly important advocacy channel for the built environment.


Content was again hugely varied across real estate and infrastructure, with a printed programme handed out to attendees containing hundreds of pages of main venue and fringe events. This week, unsure of the recyclability of a programme closely resembling a Stephen King novel, businesses across the UK may unwittingly end up with a number of new doorstops.

Content covered virtually every sector and issue, and discussions tended to be granular rather than high level. Themes were heavily slanted to regional and urban regeneration, social impact, EDI, environmental sustainability, the investment outlook, with a notable increase in technology events (as well as exhibitors).

The fringe programme has grown significantly as delegates become increasingly familiar with Leeds and the best places to host networking events. We strongly suspect the fringe programme at UKREiiF 2025 will be much larger and that, while the event will see more attendees overall, a smaller proportion of visitors to Leeds in 2025 will be ticket-holders – a trend that we’ve seen grow firmly at MIPIM since its inception.

Opportunities in 2025

So, what next for UKREiiF – and the built environment organisations seeking to influence their audiences at it? The short answer is that it will grow – both in scale and in influence. It already offers a direct line to most of real estate’s stakeholders and audiences, including its political influence and reach (Angela Rayner’s speech on new towns was splashed across the broadsheets, giving it a national consumer audience otherwise unheard of for real estate events).

More companies will want a slice of that action. That means fewer companies will succeed, but those who think strategically will win big.

We expect UKREiiF to grow in importance as a moment in the real estate calendar, particularly for businesses focusing on the UK and regeneration opportunities.

  • Media and politicians

More announcements will be made, particularly from local authorities announcing investment and JV opportunities, which is likely to attract even more journalists. We’d also expect an increase in political stakeholders next year, with a view to increase investment into their local areas. The challenge will be standing out in a saturated market and ensuring content reaches target audiences. At UKREiiF, there was very little digital communications – particularly microtargeting – that changed the conversation on the ground. There’s more room for brands to use the physical event in a digital way, and to explore written and multimedia thought leadership avenues – particularly given one common complaint at UKREiiF is that there are too many panels at once. The easy way around this is to create something that you can take home, beyond the programme.

  • Speaker opportunities

Content for next year’s event will start to be programmed over the next couple of months. It is very likely that UKREiiF will insist that all prospective speakers have paid-for tickets to the event.

UKREiiF is likely to continue its existing speaker selection – whereby, of those nominated, it shortlists reputable names and then puts that shortlist to the panel sponsor. UKREiiF is a prime example of how reputation can’t be built overnight in a way that delivers results. Strategic communications takes time and we will be advising our clients to start UKREiiF 2025 planning today.

  • Content hosting

UKREiiF offers the option for organisations to host specific venues (e.g. its Places for Life Pavilion, Social Value Pavilion, Industry in Focus Pavilion or branded pavilions – for example, JLL, Bidwells and the Government Property Agency all had dedicated spaces over the course of the event to host contacts for meetings, receptions, and panel events). 

These will sell out relatively quickly. They do however offer exceptional opportunities to run thought leadership programmes and networking events, positioning brands at the heart of the event, as well as allowing them to reinforce their thought leader status and expand their networks. 

UKREiiF 2025 is going to be a very interesting place to be. Ten months after the upcoming general election, and five years until a host of sustainability milestones and regulations kick in, it will offer significant opportunities for the built environment industry to reflect on a whirlwind year, and what it needs to achieve in the next five.