For those of you who don’t know much about the International Business Festival, I’ll let the statistics speak for themselves: Our two previous events facilitated more than £500m worth of business deals, and helped companies secure export contracts worth £87m.
The big figures are great; but the Festival – taking place over three weeks in Liverpool this June – is about so much more than money.
Firstly, no business should think it’s not for them, or be pua t off by the name. Yes, it’s a proudly international event, with more than 100 overseas delegations expected to arrive in the city, hungry to do business. But you don’t need to be an established exporter to make the most of the event. There’ll be a wealth of practical advice for every type of British business, no matter the size.
In our Knowledge Hub, for instance, you’ll find how-to sessions on accessing finance, building your leadership and skills capacity, and finding opportunities in new markets. Whether taking their first steps towards export, or looking to gain a foothold in a new territory, entrepreneurs will be able to tap in to a wealth of intelligence.
There are general sessions on retaining a motivated workforce, accessing Innovate UK or Department for International Trade support, trading with China, India or the US, and readying companies for investment. And we’ll have sector-specific sessions, such as those looking at future opportunities in transportation and logistics, using nanotech to create healthier foods and cyber security in the creative industries.
Perhaps the single most important aspect of our Festival is the unparalleled opportunity it presents for networking.
Past delegates often tell me the Festival was where they made the vital connection that transformed their business. We’ve welcomed more than 30,000 delegates to the Festival’s two previous editions and this year we’re expecting as many as 3,000 people on every one of our nine sector-themed days.
As one small business owner told us: “It’s a place literally filled with potential new clients; an opportunity to tap in to specific sectors.”
We know busy businesspeople need to be sure they can reach the most relevant people. So we’re using the online Delegate Select platform which will enable ticketholders to see who else is attending – find out their industry, where they operate and whether they are looking to buy, sell, invest or source products – before fixing up meetings with them. Going live in the run-up to the event, the platform will also allow people to connect with the 1,500 or so attending specialist ticketed events within the Festival site.
But why do we call our event a festival? Why not a convention, or a conference? Well, it’s a little bit different to your standard industry fare. Yes, there’s an international marketplace for up to 100 exhibitors to showcase their offer. Yes, we’ll talk about practical issues within the theme of the day, be that Global Economics, Urbanisation & Cities, Sustainable Energy, Future Transport, Manufacturing, Global Logistics & Shipping, Health & Life Sciences, Creative Industries, and Culture, Sport & Travel.
However, in the Futures Stage, we have our version of Glastonbury’s famous Pyramid. This is where the stars of each focus sector will take a step back, think outside the box, and look ahead to where industries might be in 20, 30 or 50 years. It’s the place where entrepreneurs can arm themselves with the knowledge to help their business cope with disruption. Or perhaps it’ll help germinate an idea that changes the shape of your business forever.
We’ve got household names like our Creative Industries host Wayne Hemingway, tech pioneers like ARM Holdings CEO Simon Segars – who you can probably thank for the fact your smartphone works – and rising stars like Dr Amrit Chandan and Carlton Cummins, whose company Aceleron are revolutionising energy systems with advancements in battery technology.
Delegates will be able to see the very latest technology in action in the UK Innovation Hub where, with the support of the government and Innovate UK, we’ll also be showcasing some of the UK’s most exciting and creative projects.
Take into account the chance for entrepreneurs to earn a spot on our Futures Stage, pitching to an audience of investors from UK Business Angels Association, overseas delegates travelling from more than 100 countries, and a stunning location on Liverpool’s famous waterfront, and you’ll start to understand why we call it a Festival.
In the words of our patron HRH The Duke of Cambridge “Since its launch, the Festival has been successful in helping businesses to attract significant investment and access to opportunities. The International Business Festival has a vital role to play in providing the support and connections they need to grow.”
The question is, can you afford not to be there?