MIPIM entrance, c PNW

MIPIM begins in Cannes on 12 March 2024. Credit:; PNW

MIPIM | ‘We’re going to take Cannes by storm’ says investment minister

MIPIM coverage sponsored by TogetherLord Dominic Johnson is “massively excited” about attending MIPIM, where he plans to spread the good word about green energy in Tees Valley, life sciences in Liverpool City Region, and advanced manufacturing in Greater Manchester.

Johnson is the minister of state for investment in the Department for Business and Trade and will be arriving in Cannes today to attend the international property expo.

“I’ve done everything to make sure I’m there so that the world sees the government is 100% behind the UK property industry,” Johnson said. “I’m there to sell opportunities and to be there to support my colleagues across the country and in every part too…

“Investors want to see a united voice when it comes to investing in the UK.”

Dominic Johnson, Department for Business and Trade, p Department for Business and Trade

Lord Dominic Johnson spoke to Place about power, planning, and elections. Credit: via Department for Business and Trade

Power and planning

At MIPIM, Johnson said he expects to be confronted with two topics: power and planning.

The state of the National Grid is rising in the ranks of concerns for the minister.

This is because of the discussions he has with international investors about property, few are about offices or housing – most are about data centres, energy storage, logistics facilities. He labelled power as the property industry’s “biggest challenge”.

“These sheds normally require an enormous amount of energy,” Johnson said. “So making sure that we’ve got the right energy network and systems is very, very essential. That’s something I work on very much.”

Johnson said he had met with National Grid leadership and found them to be “really ambitious” and “dedicated” to doing the hard work required to improve the infrastructure. “It’s a national endeavour and they’re doing everything they can to try and speed up processes and make them more efficient,” Johnson said.

But he acknowledged that more needs to be done.

“We need to triple the amount of grid supply that we have across the country and that’s going to be incredibly expensive,” he said. But he stressed that investment into the grid is happening and that the government is committed to helping the energy situation – including through investment into new nuclear plants.

“We’re making a difference,” Johnson said. “But there’s more to do.”

Regarding the other conversation topic – planning – Johnson commented that if local authorities review applications in a timely and predictable manner than they will improve their chances of securing foreign direct investment.

“That’s what the investor base needs – they need a predictable planning regime,” he said.

Freeports and investment zones

Johnson hailed the government’s freeport and investment zone policies as “enormously successful”.

The Humber Freeport has already won £516m in overseas investment, Teeside has £602m (and £500m from domestic sources), and Liverpool has £22m. The government estimates this will create 2,150 jobs in the Teeside freeport and 770 at the Humber one over the next 20 years.

As for investment zones, Manchester has allocated its two special tax zones. The first is 516 acres and encompasses the University of Salford, ID Manchester, and Mayfield. The second is Northern Gateway, 958 acres in Rochdale and Bury. Liverpool’s investment zones are to have a life sciences focus and include the £450m AstraZeneca vaccine manufacturing facility.

Johnson said that it was clear that current regeneration efforts are working well – especially in the North East.

“The regeneration I’ve seen, the material change in the economy from when I was a teenager living up there 35 years ago – it’s a very different country, enormously prosperous, very optimistic,” he said.

Sovereign wealth funds around the world, he said, are taking note and looking at Northern cities.


The minister is also not fussed with an upcoming general election putting off the global investment community. As far as the international community is concerned, the UK will not face major policy swings even if a new party comes to power.

“The UK has a very stable and predictable environment, a very strong rule of law, an da fundamental desire to get investment into the country to make our economy grow,” Johnson said.

At the end of the day, Johnson said that everyone was a capitalist. “We all want to get foreign investment into this region,” he said, adding that local authorities, regardless of their political allegiance, “know investors need to have good rates of return and they need to have a predictable and stable environment in which to operate”.

Place North West’s MIPIM 2024 coverage is sponsored by Together.

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