7,000 reasons to be part of IFB2016

An ambitious meet-the-buyer programme at next year’s International Festival for Business will see companies taking part in some 7,000 face-to-face meetings with potential new customers.

Festival organisers were revealing the scale of the new business opportunities for companies to an audience of more than 150 business leaders at an event in host city Liverpool this morning.

They also unveiled plans for a programme of inspirational global business personalities who will speak at a series of daily festival events called the Blue Skies programme, as well as plans for a major festival fringe called The Edge.

The second International Festival for Business takes place in Liverpool in June 2016, with activity clustered round three themes: manufacturing, creative and digital, and energy and environment.
Thousands of international businesses are expected to gather for three weeks of networking and deal-making.

The festival is supported by the UK government, main partner HSBC, global media partner Bloomberg and festival supporters DLA Piper, Dong Energy, Heathrow, PwC, Siemens and Virgin Trains.

Festival director Ian McCarthy was being joined today by Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board member Kate Willard, LEP Executive Director Mark Basnett and Downtown in Business Chief Executive Frank McKenna.

Mr McCarthy said:

“The festival in 2016 will offer very concrete opportunities for companies to win new business from potential clients and customers from right across the UK and world.

“The meet-the-buyer programme alone will see some 7,000 face-to-face meetings organised by our team on behalf of businesses looking to buy and sell goods and services.

“These will be high quality and qualified appointments and we are extremely confident that they will lead to the generation of tens of millions pounds worth of revenue for those companies taking part.

“This activity sits right at the heart of the festival and is a core part of our ambition: delivering business opportunities, new customers, growth and enhanced prospects for SMEs both here in the North West of England and further afield.

“We know through the independent evaluation carried out that IFB2014 was directly responsible for some £280m of news sales and deals and our ambition is to help businesses achieve even more value next year.”

Mr McCarthy added that the festival’s Blue Skies programme would see globally renowned business leaders and thinkers delivering free-to-attend inspirational presentations at the end of each working day at the festival.

Kate Willard told the audience about how the shape of The Edge was being developed by a wide partnership if business organisations being co-ordinated by the LEP.

Ms Willard, who is Director of The Edge, said:

“The Edge will be a complementary programme to the core festival schedule and will offer inventive, creative and dynamic opportunities for businesses to engage with one another and to learn, to teach and to share ideas.

“Whilst IFB2016 is an authentically global business gathering, we believe it is right for The Edge to have a truly Liverpool City Region flavour, reflecting our personality and creativity.

“The Edge is challenging, provocative and fully inclusive so that everyone from sole traders to young entrepreneurs, and social enterprises to large corporates, will be involved. The programme will include themes relevant to the main festival themes as well as addressing more generic issues that are of concern to our businesses.”

The Edge events will take place across the city and across the duration of the festival.
Frank McKenna, chair of Downtown in Business, which represents businesses across the North West, Yorkshire and the West Midlands, said:

“The festival programme is inspirational and the three-week schedule will offer lots of opportunities for people to absorb the thinking and learning of some truly visionary business personalities.

“Fundamentally, however, I think business people should regard it as a kind of festival for deal-making – meeting the right people and engaging with potential new customers and investors. It’s these tangible benefits which make the festival a must-attend event.”

Mark Basnett, executive director of the LEP, urged businesses to take the IFB2016 opportunities seriously and to invest time in preparing their involvement.

He added:

“Like most things in business, this isn’t a free ride. For companies to get tangible value out of the festival they are going to have to invest time in thinking through their engagement: what they want to achieve and how they are going to achieve it.

“But I have no doubt that for those companies that do take it seriously, the benefits could be transformational.”

Businesses wishing to find out how they can take advantage of IFB2016’s Meet The Buyer programme should register to join the IFB2016 Business Club at www.ifb2016.com to ensure they are kept up to date when further details of the programme are revealed in the New Year. A range of other business services which Business Club members will be able to access will also be revealed early in 2016. Businesses looking to participate in or contribute to The Edge should contact Kate Willard at Kate.Willard@liverpoollep.org

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