Liverpool City and Wirral Borough Council are putting together a month-long UK business expo to showcase the region’s trade and investment opportunities to the international market.
The £15m International Festival of Business is scheduled for 2014 and is expected to be of the scale of the Millennium Fair in 2000 and Festival of Britain in 1951. The event will concentrate on the key sectors of low carbon, ports and logistics, and knowledge including life sciences, creative, digital, advanced manufacturing and professional and financial services.
The festival will stretch across three sites: The ACC Liverpool, a proposed North Liverpool Investment Centre and the International Trade Centre in Wirral, which is due to open in 2014. The councils are looking to attract exhibitors from across the UK and overseas along with visitors from 100 countries.
Alongside the business exhibition and content, a cultural programme is being organised. Funding is coming from both the public and private sectors and the event is hoped to generate an estimated return on investment of £100m in economic activity.
Backers include the UK Trade and Investment, 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.
“We have held this ambition since returning from World Expo in 2010 and so this is a hugely significant moment in the continuing development of the city and the city region,” Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said.
“We have made great strides in recent years forging new international relationships and trade partnerships, but the challenge is to inspire more businesses to grow, to export and to innovate, and to open up new markets both here and across the country.”
The festival’s strategic delivery group is being overseen by Liverpool Vision chief executive Max Steinberg.
“There is no question that the city region has the assets and the expertise to host an event of this scale,” he said. “We have an excellent track record in delivering or contributing to world class events from the International Garden Festival in 1984 through Capital of Culture in 2008, the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress earlier this year.”
News of the expo comes off the back of last year’s independent report, Rebalancing Britain: Policy or Slogan, which aimed at analysing the Liverpool City region’s economic strength and opportunities for growth over the next 10-20 years. The report was penned by Lord Heseltine and former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy and recommended the launch of a new Liverpool international expo to generate investment into the North of England.