Back in January 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron launched The International Festival of Business (IFB). An event on the scale of the Millennium Fair in 2000 or the Festival of Britain in 1951 was anticipated for the North West region, featuring an estimated 30 events. Now with the festival days away, more than 150 events are set to take over 50 days this summer.
The landmark event will be hosted by Liverpool, using venues across the North West of England. The event will open with the British Business Embassy 2014 at St George’s Hall on 9 June and close with a dinner and awards ceremony at Knowsley Hall on 22 July.
“We’re hoping for £100m of economic impact, 250,000 visitors and 10,000 meet the buyer link-ups,” the festival’s commercial director James Gower told EN.
Gower has 20 years of experience in the events industry and has worked for DMG World Media, Marine Industry Events and its bid to launch the Liverpool Boat Show, Brand Events and its Top Gear portfolio, National Boat Shows and Emap.
He was most recently a business development director at Clarion Events.
“You’ve had comedy, music and food festivals. But you’ve never had a B2B event on this scale before,” Gower added.
The festival will be run by a joint venture, Event and Exhibition Partners, led by Clarion and Montgomery.
Events at IFB 2014 revolve around the themes of: Cities, enterprise and urban business, Creative and digital industries, Financial and professional services, Higher/further education and research, Low carbon and renewables, Manufacturing, science and technology, Maritime, logistics and energy.
“When we set out, we had plans for 30 events. Now we are looking at around 160 events, with another 150 fringe,” said Gower.
The festival will stretch across more than 100 sites: The ACC Convention Centre, Echo Arena and BT Convention Centre, three Liverpool universities, churches, clubs and disused space and a new legacy venue specially upgraded for the festival.
The Stanley Dock and Rum Warehouse is a Grade I listed building which has been converted into an exhibition centre and hotel.
Liverpool City and Wirral Borough Council have teamed up to host the event, with Liverpool Vision, the economic development company for the city, hosting the event.
Backers include UK Trade & Investment, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the British Chambers of Commerce plus northern-based property developer The Peel Group, which is developing the £10bn Mersey Waters scheme and the International Trade Centre.
But Gower doesn’t want the event to be a one-off.
“Maybe we could look at doing it again in 2016, across more venues. We have already had a couple of approaches,” he said.
After 50 days of intense business activity, with a key legacy venue, the festival has already made its mark on the UK exhibition market.
BRITISH BUSINESS EMBASSY, 9 JUNE, ST GEORGE’S HALLA platform for influential corporate and policy makers to network, meet potential partners and do business. Events will showcase the best of British business with a focus on developing connections with key emerging international markets.
BT GLOBAL CITY LEADERS’ SUMMIT, 18 JUNE, ST GEORGE’S HALLA gathering of more than 300 city leaders and senior members of local government from around the world to discuss how they are ‘delivering growth in times of austerity.’Speakers: Bruce Katz of Washington DC’s Brookings Institute and adviser to Barack Obama; Greg Clark, the UK’s minister of state for Cities; Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group.
WORLD CORPORATE GAMES, 26-29 JUNE, VARIOUS LOCATIONSTwo years on from the London Olympics, Britain will host the World Corporate Games featuring teams from the world’s most successful companies.
THE ICAEW BUSINESS FUTURES CONFERENCE, 1 JULY, LIVERPOOL TOWN HALLTackling the threats and opportunities of the future, what strategies businesses should adopt to prepare for the challenges to come and what policies Governments should adopt.Speakers: Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO, Tesco; Jonathan Dimbleby, TV presenter; Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre and chair of the All Party Parlimentary Group Intergenerational Futures.
INTERNATIONAL SPORT BUSINESS CONFERENCE, 17-18 JULY, ACC LIVERPOOL/ETIHAD CITY OF MANCHESTER STADIUMA brand new event designed to bring together senior figures from diverse backgrounds to share ideas, forge new relationships and unlock the commercial and social power of sport. Speakers: Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO, Manchester City Council; Marc Watson, CEO, BT Vision; Ian Ayre, managing director, Liverpool FC; Robert Elstone, CEO, Everton FC.
MADE IN THE UK, 21-22 JULY, ACCA series of conferences hearing from market leading UK manufacturers as well as an exhibition from companies available to discuss with UK manufacturing supply chain companies their future plans and opportunities. Speakers: Alan Foster, operations director, McLaren, Advanced Automotive Engineering; John Blaymires, chief operating officer, IGas; James Baker, business director of the National Graphene Institute – Manchester University; Mike Tynan, CEO, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre; Simon Keogh, UK industrial automation specialist at Siemens Industrial Automation
This was first published in the June issue of EN. Any comments? Email Domenic Donatantonio