Tim Newns, CEO MIDAS, City of Manchester, UK
Nadia Soultanova, Head of Digitalisation, Innovation and Investments at Innovative Sofia department, Sofia Municipality, Bulgaria
Paul Kallee-Grover, Director, Avison Young
Dr. Philippe Bouvier, President, Institut National de Recherche En Gestion Urbaine - INREGU

How are modern cities equipped to cope with COVID-19 and what lessons can we learn from each other to future-proof? Has enough attention been paid to implementing solutions? How can innovation and technology help overcome obstacles to recovery?

Key takeaways — Vision versus reality: How to plan a post-pandemic-resistant city. Obstacles versus opportunities. Health versus economic recovery.

Practical examples of tech solutions that have been introduced to help respond to the challenges caused by pandemics;

Facing the density challenge, which increases vulnerability to novel viruses but also to terrorist attacks, crime, invasions of privacy and traffic accidents;

Aspects of urban planning to reconsider when developing a pandemic-resistant city and creating the right approach to dealing with threats;

Key technologies and resources required for urban planning on the road to recovery;

The role of a city’s digital infrastructure in responding to pandemics and ensuring shorter recovery times.

What do Urban Tech professionals need to do differently?


Tim Newns, CEO of MIDAS
City of Manchester, UK

Tim has been Chief Executive of MIDAS, Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency, since 2011, having originally joined MIDAS as Business Development Manager in 2005. Over the 15 years Tim has been at MIDAS, Manchester has become the most invested in city in the UK outside London, with record results over the last year.
Previous to MIDAS Tim worked in business development in the UK and then as a journalist with the Cape Argus newspaper in Cape Town and the Daily Times in Lahore, Pakistan before going on to work for the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office in India.
Tim studied Engineering and Business at the University of Newcastle and is a huge sports fan.


MIDAS is Manchester’s inward investment agency, with a strategic aim to secure significant levels of new investment and employment for the city region. This is achieved through the global business marketing of Manchester, targeting key markets and sectors, and the provision of an extensive, free and confidential package of advice and assistance for location consultants and potential investors.
MIDAS’ services are available to national and international companies that wish to relocate to – or expand within – Greater Manchester. Working in partnership with the ten local authorities, MIDAS provides services such as relocation support, assistance in finding property solutions and advice on recruitment and training.

Nadia Soultanova
Head of Digitalisation, Innovation and Investments at Innovative Sofia department, Sofia Municipality

Nadia Soultanova is Head of Digitalisation, Innovation and Investments unit at Innovative Sofia – Sofia Municipality’s Digitalisation, Innovation and Economic Development department. Before that Nadia was Head of Investment and Business Development at Invest Sofia – the investment promotion and business development agency of the City of Sofia for three years.
Nadia graduated with a BA in Business in the USA and holds an MBA from the American University in Bulgaria. Before joining the public sector, Nadia worked in sales in a Fortune 500 company and as a project manager for an energy start-up in Sofia.

The ‘Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development’ department of Sofia Municipality (Innovative Sofia) was established in 2020 to support Sofia’s development as a smart, digital, innovative, and tech city.
The goal of the new department and the new Deputy Mayor for Digitalization, Innovation and Economic Development is to be a leader and engine of the digital transformation of Sofia – to initiate and coordinate digital transformation policies along the verticals of urban governance, to reduce the administrative burden, to develop and implement more and better e-services for the citizens and businesses in Sofia, to implement open data platforms and smart city projects.

Paul Kallee Grover
Director, Avison Young

Paul Kallee-Grover is a Director in Avison Young’s Liverpool office where he advises on all aspects of commercial development and urban regeneration. Paul is a regular speaker on inward investment and exporting goods and services in his role as a Department for International Trade (DIT) Northern Powerhouse Exporting Champion. He is also a previous holder of a Board of Trade Award, presented in recognition of his role of supporting export growth into Asia. Since September 2019 Paul has also been the chair of the Liverpool China Partnership, an organisation that represents of the public, private and higher education sectors in fostering trade and cultural relationships between the UK and China.

Avison Young is the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its Principals. Founded in 1978, with legacies dating back more than 200 years, the company comprises approximately 5,000 real estate professionals in more than 100 offices in nearly 15 countries. The firm’s experts provide value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management and financing services to clients across the office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hospitality sectors.

Dr Philippe Bouvier
President at Institut National de Recherche En Gestion Urbaine – INREGU

Prof. Philippe Bouvier is the President of the French National Institute of Research in Urban Management located in Lyon, France. He is also Non-Executive Chairman of the International UREKA Education Group, located in London, UK and Founder and Managing Partner of Urban Value Creation Consulting, located in Dubai, UAE.

He has a PhD with Honors from Paris 7 University and an Executive MBA from INSEAD Singapore. His PhD is in urban studies (urbanism and city management) and the title of his thesis is “From segmented management in modern cities to systemic governance in sustainable cities”.

As a professor in urban studies, urban digital transformation, urban strategy, urban investment, innovation and entrepreneurship, a keynote and TEDx speaker, and the author of numerous articles, he is a recognised expert at the European Commission in Security Risk Management.

■ Smart industrial site strategy ■ Real estate digital transformation ■ Real estate investment optimization ■ Smart and sustainable city strategy ■ Urban digital transformation ■ City digital master plan ■ Future urban management ■ Sustainable urban development ■ Homeland and urban security ■ Project management ■ Crisis management ■ Urban Entrepreneurship ■ Urban Innovation ■ Urban strategy ■ UrbanTech ■ Online education ■ Executive education■ Conference organizer