Huge progress on business festival

Fifty events attracting 75,000 delegates and delivering a £10m spending boost to the Liverpool city region economy have already been confirmed for the International Festival of Business (IFB), organisers have revealed.

The IFB will see a global 250,000-strong business audience descend on the city over six weeks in June and July next year.

Organiser Liverpool Vision expects to confirm scores more events in coming months.

Hundreds of thousands of other visitors will also visit the region for an ambitious calendar of culture and entertainment which will run in parallel with the IFB. Details of that are being kept under wraps.

Max Steinberg, chair of IFB2014, said the programme was already exceeding expectations and that, when combined with the cultural programme and other events, the city region would see a million-plus visitors over a two-month period.

The scale of confirmed events came as Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his backing for the project and issued a rallying call for businesses to get involved.

He said: “I’m delighted to be able to show my support for the International Festival for Business. With more than a quarter of a million of visitors expected in Liverpool this is going to be an event on an unprecedented scale. For anyone involved in enterprise, the International Festival for Business is the place to be. Make sure you’re there to make the most of it.”

Highlights of the programme include a Global Leaders’ Summit, when the civic, political and business leaders from the world’s 50 leading cities will gather to discuss the challenges facing cities, regions and countries.

UKTI will also be showcasing the best of British business over two days when it stages the British Business Embassy, which was a hugely successful part of Britain’s 2012 Olympic business legacy, attracting some 4,000 global business figures.

That event is just one of 12 UKTI events scheduled for the festival – a demonstration, say organisers, of the Government’s support for the event.

Some £5m of Government money is being used to help fund the IFB, with millions more expected to be raised through sponsorship.

Initial estimates, using industry standard figures, suggest the 75,000 delegates expected to attend the events confirmed so far will spend in the region of £10m during their visits.

Millions of pounds more will be injected into the economy through event management activity and the spending of visitors attending cultural events.

Detailed appraisals are currently being carried out to ensure smooth transport, venue and event organisation and that visitors experience the best the city region has to offer.

Individual conferences and exhibitions will be held at venues throughout the city region and it is anticipated that events will also be held in other parts of the North West, including at one of the UK’s two national science campuses – Sci-Tech Daresbury, Cheshire – and in Manchester.

The festival will also coincide with the staging of The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, which will attract millions of global TV viewers and see hundreds of thousands of spectators arriving in the region.

The festival will have a focus on key UK business sectors and themes, including maritime, logistics and energy, higher education, manufacturing, science and technology, professional and financial services, low carbon and renewables and creative and digital.

Speaking about the IFB, Mr Cameron said: “It’s an opportunity for people around the world network to build contacts and, yes, do deals. It’s a great chance for British businesses to show what they are made of. Once again, this is a country that makes things, invents things and sells things to the rest of the world.

“And this is a shop window like no other. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for foreign investors to see Britain at its best because we are rolling out a red carpet for companies that are coming to this country and we are saying to the world: Britain is open for business.”

Max Steinberg said: “We are significantly ahead of schedule in terms of the number of confirmed events in the calendar. The value to the city region will be immeasurable in terms of the profile it will afford us. What will be measurable, however, is the amount of money injected into the city region economy as a direct result of the IFB and associated activity. Cautious initial estimates suggest more than £10m will be spent by the 75,000 delegates so far confirmed – and there’s still almost a year to go.” (

He added: “We estimate more than 250,000 IFB delegates, a similar number of golf spectators and up to half a million other visitors attracted by the cultural programme – all visiting the city region over a two-month period. It will represent an unprecedented boost to our visitor economy.”

IFB partners include the Confederation of British Industry, UKTI, British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.

John Cridland, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Britain punches above its weight around the world but we are only 60 million in a 7 billion world so we have to make ourselves well known, we have to shout pretty loud and I can’t think of a better place to be doing that than Liverpool.”

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