Business festival brings £600m boost to UK trade and investment

business festival

The world’s biggest international business festival hosted in Liverpool has boosted UK trade and investment by £600m, according to new research.

The economic windfall has been provided thanks to the biennial International Business Festival, staged in 2014 and 2016, which has attracted 31,000 visitors from 98 countries, with large delegations from the US, India and China.

The festival – backed by central government through the Department for International Trade – is aimed at small and medium-sized companies. The nine-day event will be particularly attractive to those UK businesses eyeing overseas trade, with 30 per cent of delegates in 2016 reporting that the Festival had actively encouraged them to begin exporting or exploring the opportunity of new international markets.

In 2016, sales valued at £250m were agreed at the festival with some 500 UK companies securing exports worth in excess of £87m.

Figures were revealed in an independent analysis published with a year to go before Liverpool hosts the 2018 International Business Festival.

Businesspeople themselves have testified to the export gains achieved by attending the festival.

Brian Wilkins of blast-proof security blind manufacturers Abbey Group said: “In the 12 months since we took part in the Festival we have significantly advanced our global profile – working towards high-value deals with prospective buyers in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. As a direct consequence of the connections we made in 2016, we are now planning to expand our business and take on additional employees.”

Michelle Billington of independent movie studio Foot in the Door Films said: “We estimate deals agreed at the festival will bring investment of between £2 to £30m over the next 3 – 5 years.”

Next year’s event, which will take place with Brexit talks in full swing, will cement the UK’s position as one of the global leaders in free trade and investment, in a city world renowned as an export gateway.

Organisers predict that the total value of deals over the three festivals will reach £1bn, boosted by the trade and investment from the 2018 event.

The upbeat forecast came as they unveiled details of the 2018 festival, which will be held over nine days in June next year at the 80,000 square foot Exhibition Centre Liverpool.

Organisers are promising a stellar line-up of inspirational speakers, including heads of government and business leaders to be announced in the coming months. Lead sponsor HSBC, have already committed to supporting the 2018 Festival, with the global bank promising to use their insight into the world of internationally ambitious upscaling businesses to inform the content of the event.

Each day of the 2018 event will focus on a different high-growth business sector, including global economics, future transport, creative industries, manufacturing and health and life science.

A new innovation hub will showcase the latest business trends; a “festival incubator” will offer expert advice to expanding firms and there will be a wide range of cutting-edge conferences. Taking to the “blueskies stage” will be world-renowned industry experts, influencers and innovators.

Max Steinberg, chair of the 2018 International Business Festival, said: “As the world’s biggest business festival we have an outstanding track record for helping business to upscale and realise their potential.  The festival is designed to appeal to a broad audience from start-ups to SMEs and innovators to major corporations. We help businesses meet buyers and suppliers, developing partnerships and signing deals. This is the third festival and it promises to be better than ever.”

Amanda Murphy, Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC UK, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and for many there is an appetite to grow their business through exporting.  For those worrying about having a lack of exporting experience the International Business Festival brings SMEs together with experts to explore opportunities.  We’re looking forward to joining the UK’s most exciting young businesses eager to discover the international markets available to them.”

The festival will be held between 12-28 June 2018. For more information about the 2018 International Business Festival please visit