The ULI Europe Leadership Retreat, which took place in Lisbon at the end of September, was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with fellow professionals from the real estate industry who I consider to have become firm friends, thanks to the connections made through ULI.

ULI Europe Chairman Juergen Fenk

One of those friends is immediate past chair Jon Zehner, with whom I was actively involved in the creation of the ULI Europe Strategic Plan (July 2018–June 2022) as part of the Global Strategic Plan. 

The main objective for ULI in Europe is to increase membership by enhancing member engagement and retention, increasing ULI’s impact, and making the organization financially resilient for the long term. To achieve this, we set five major goals:

  • Membership—develop and increase membership (individual and corporate) as the main, stable revenue source.
  • Leadership—become better known as the European multidisciplinary real estate and land use knowledge network that leads in applying big ideas and emerging trends to business practices.
  • Structure and networks—to further develop the national councils and product councils and open up the opportunities for cross-fertilization because they are fundamental to Europe’s member engagement.
  • Products and programming—to focus on mission-driven activities, such as UrbanPlan and Advisory Services, as ways to distinguish ULI from other nonprofit organizations in Europe and to increase member engagement.
  • Financial performance—to establish a financially resilient, self-sufficient platform for sustainable growth.
ULI Europe Leadership Retreat

Since ULI became active in Europe in the early 1990s, it has established itself as being at the forefront of pioneering real estate and urban development research, helping the Institute attract a diverse membership base from all sectors of the industry. Since my term as chair began in July 2018, ULI Europe has grown from around 3,400 members in June 2018 to more than 3,800 today, and we aim to grow much more dramatically over the next few years.

Key to our success has been delivering member value through a strong focus on our national councils and product councils, as well as research and advisory services.

ULI members have had the opportunity to connect and learn from each other as part of the many events that are held through the National Council network. This is complemented by a growing range of local and European product councils responding to the needs of members. The most recent Europe product council, focused on technology and real estate, was launched earlier this year.

We are now working on the launch of new product councils—starting off as forums to test member appetite—focused on living concepts, life sciences, creative placemaking, and urban development and infrastructure, aiming to have these evolve into dedicated product councils in spring 2020.

In addition, this fall we are launching a webinar program, another example of the ever-growing range of ULI opportunities to learn and get involved.

Among our key events across Europe are the annual local launch events of Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2020. This year, the European launch will take place in Brussels on November 6, followed by local launch events in European cities throughout our National Council network. We look forward to welcoming you to one of them. 

As noted, research is a key focus area of ULI in Europe. In close collaboration with our members, we initiate and deliver research on topics that help members stay ahead of the latest trends in real estate and provide leadership in the responsible use of land. A highlight of the past year was the launch of the Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision-Making report, published in collaboration with Heitman. 

Front cover of Climate Risk and Real Estate Investment Decision-Making

Our next major research project involves best-practice solutions for affordable housing—a crucial area for delivery across Europe, and one that I am sure will interest many of you. Through ULI’s Knowledge Finder members can exclusively access a whole host of research also including our latest Advisory Services reports on Wolfsburg, Germany, and Haven-Stad, Amsterdam.

ULI is an educational force not just for those currently in the real estate industry, but also for those seeking to join it. One program I am most proud of is UrbanPlan, through which members volunteers teach students about the forces affecting urban regeneration. The program has now expanded from the United Kingdom to Germany and Ireland and will soon be launched in the Netherlands. Our Navigator platform is a great way to get involved in this or one of our other fantastic programs.

Diversity is a key focus for ULI, not only as related to the membership, but also to the wider industry. Our programs aim to cater to the needs of all those active in urban development, from different geographies, generations, and backgrounds. We are proud to inspire the next generations and our very active Young Leader (under 35) and ULI NEXT (ages 35 to 45) groups. By being more involved with ULI, you will not only get more out of being a member, but also you will have the opportunity to be recognized as an industry leader.

ULI European Leadership Awards 2019

At the ULI Europe Conference in London earlier this year, where we had a record attendance of over 660, we launched the ULI European Leadership Award with the inaugural winner being Scott D. Malkin, former chairman of the ULI Europe region. 

The announcement of the next edition of the Leadership Awards will take place at the ULI Europe Conference, February 3 to 5 in Amsterdam. I encourage you to register now for the event, where you will have the opportunity to network with the industry’s best and brightest and learn about Amsterdam’s urban development highlights. You will also hear from global thought leaders, including Hans Timmer, chief economist for the South Asia region at the World Bank; Komal Sri-Kumar, president of Sri-Kumar Global Strategies; and Daniel L. Doctoroff, chairman and chief executive officer of Sidewalk Labs, who will be guest speaker at the conference reception and dinner. I am really looking forward to catching up with you in Amsterdam in February!