Guest post by Max Steinberg CBE, Chairman of the International Business Festival 2018.
Allow us to reintroduce ourselves, we are the International Business Festival - a biennial UK event hosted in Liverpool celebrating the dynamism and diversity of the global marketplace, and providing significant opportunities for ambitious businesses looking to grow.
Since we began in 2014, we've welcomed tens of thousands of delegates from around the world and secured more than half a billion pounds of additional trade and investment for the UK.
This year, in our third edition, we are looking forward to developing the festival's reputation as the place where businesses - be they start-ups or SMEs - can access the connections and guidance they need on their journey to growth and prosperity.
Held over 3 weeks, from 12 to 28 June, the 2018 festival will deliver an inspiring and engaging schedule of expert panels, practical workshops and high-profile keynote addresses. This includes a significant presence from the UK government, promoting its modern Industrial Strategy and GREAT campaigns.
The goal is that the festival's programme will capture the energy and opportunity of global trade whilst also focusing on how business can create social and cultural as well as economic value.
This year's programme
Our 9-day programme will explore the challenges and opportunities for business across a range of high-growth sectors which will power the global economy of the future, from sustainable energy to health and life sciences to the creative industries.
In the festival team, we welcomed the publication of the government's Industrial Strategy last year.
We believe it represents a forward-looking, long-term plan to radically increase productivity, upgrade infrastructure and build the world's most innovative economy.
Its emphases on the need to prioritise research and development and skills training and its commitment to tackling regional economic imbalance are very welcome, and the strategy's central aims - to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business - is one that we support wholeheartedly.
Connecting and making connections
Delegates at the festival will be able to see the technology which will supercharge British industry in the future at the UK Innovation Hub. Presented by our partners in government, it will be a showcase of some of the UK's most exciting and creative projects.
Visitors to previous festivals often tell me the event was where they made the vital connection that transformed their business. This is the real USP of the festival, allowing delegates to build partnerships, make deals and ultimately drive growth across the whole of the UK, including the North.
Liverpool is the first link in the chain of great cities which make up the Northern Powerhouse. Encompassing the cities of Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield - as well as the towns in-between - the area is home to more than 15 million people and generates one fifth of UK GDP.
A historic cradle of industry and innovation, the region is where the atom was split, the first computer was built and the tracks of the first commercial railway were laid. The tradition of invention and intelligence in the North continues to this day.
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.
That's why we hope that if you are part of a business - no matter the size - you'll take advantage of the opportunities presented by the festival. We look forward to seeing you in Liverpool this June.
For more information and tickets, visit internationalbusinessfestival.com.
For 10% off tickets, use the code: FEST11
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