Cherie Blair among the big names as Liverpool’s International Business Festival aims for £1bn target

Merseyside-born wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair will join Liverpool FC chief executive Peter Moore at the global festival that will welcome 27,000 people to the city in June. Tony McDonough reports

Cherie Blair
Cherie Blair is one of the big-name speakers at the International Business Festival in Liverpool


Cherie Blair, Liverpool FC chief executive Peter Moore and designer Wayne Hemingway are just three of the big names lined for Liverpool’s third International Business Festival.

Just one month out from the start of the global extravaganza, which takes place over three weeks in June, festival organisers have unveiled a full programme of events and speakers.

Starting on June 12 the festival and its partner events will bring 27,000 people to the city and the main festival venue, Exhibition Centre Liverpool, is expecting more than 100 international delegations from markets including the US, China and India.

£400m target

Festivals in 2014 and 2016 generated an estimated £600m of extra business for UK firms and organisers have set a £400m target for this year to take that figure past £1bn.

Click here for a the full festival programme

Brexit is sure to be high on the agenda at the festival as the UK Government and British companies look to grow our export sales beyond the EU. The 2014 festival attracted buyers and investors from 98 countries around the world and saw 500 UK companies secure exports of more than £87m.

And entrepreneurs attending the event will gain access to experts from global banking giant HSBC, the Department for International Trade and the CBI.

Exhibition Centre Liverpool
Exhibition Centre Liverpool will be the venue for the International Business Festival. Picture by Tony McDonough


Brexit matters

Of course the discussion over what kind of Brexit we want is continuing and, with that in mind, one of the speakers this year is businesswoman and Brexit sceptic Gina Miller. Other names featuring in the festival line-up include BBC business editor Simon Jack and Lord Karan Bilimoria, the chief executive of Cobra Beer.

Subjects which will be explored at the event include hiring and retaining skilled employees, how driverless vehicles will revolutionise business and how companies can go for growth outside the EU.

The 2018 Festival will run for nine days, over three weeks making it the largest event of its kind anywhere in the world and is expected to generate millions of pounds for businesses in Liverpool city centre.

Industry focus

Max Steinberg, chair of the International Business Festival, said: “Every one of our nine days is focused on an industry set to power the economy over the next 10 to 20 years. Many of these sectors – including life sciences, manufacturing and creative – are ones where the Liverpool city eegion is already a national and global leader.

“We’re expecting the world to come to Liverpool next month, to see what we have to offer and how we do business. It’s an incredible opportunity for businesses from Liverpool and the city region to connect with their next buyer or investor – from the UK or overseas.

“As one local entrepreneur said to me, ‘the festival is a chance to be in a place filled with potential new clients.’ The question is, can you afford not to be there?”

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