Recovery must benefit all of Britain

Britain’s economic recovery must benefit every part of the country, the Prime Minister said on the opening day of an event aiming to boost business outside of London, reports The Telegraph.

“I believe we are on our way back as a country from the great recession, but there are three things I want to see,” David Cameron said at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool.

“I want to see a full economic British revival, I want to see a rebalanced economy and I want to see a recovery that benefits every part of the country.

“You cannot just sit back and hope that will happen; you’ve got to work hard to make it happen.”

The event is Britain’s biggest business festival for more than 50 years and is part of a government drive to shift business focus to towns outside of London, promote economic growth and double exports by 2020.

Mr Cameron added: “This is the biggest showcase of British business since 1951. It is a shop window for enterprise, for innovation, for creativity.”

The International Festival for Business will last for 50 days, featuring more than 300 events with speakers such as Karren Brady CBE and Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco.

It is hoped the event will create more than £1.7bn in contracts and a £100m increase in foreign direct investment by 2020.

The idea for the event came from a 2011 report by Lord Heseltine and Sir Terry on restoring Liverpool’s position as an economic powerhouse.

The ultimate aim of the festival is to unleash a wave of new exporters from Liverpool, Manchester and the north-west of England, by attracting traders from 100 countries to view a showcase of British industry.

The Government is paying half of the festival’s £15m cost, but says that investment in helping companies to grow will pay dividends.

In his opening speech, former BT boss Lord Livingston of Parkhead, the Minister for Trade and Investment, said: “This festival isn’t about history, and neither is this region. It’s about today, and it’s about tomorrow.”

“When I go around the world, I don’t hear people talking about a country anywhere based in the past, I hear them talking about a creative country, a modern country, an innovative country, a country led by design, and one that is actually pretty cool. The International Festival of Business sends out a really clear message: the UK is a great place to do business, it’s a great place to start a business and it’s a great place to grow a business.”

In her speech, Ana Botin, Santander’s UK chief executive, said that banks, professional services, government and universities have a shared responsibility to help UK exporters overcome the challenge of entering new markets.

“If we want the economy to grow, if we truly want to help businesses, we should share the responsibility for helping businesses break into new markets,” she said. We cannot simply be spectators, cheering from the sidelines: we have to get onto the pitch and play our part.”

However, the event will not only benefit British firms on the international stage — it is also a coup for Liverpool, which will be keen to show that the area’s regeneration has had positive effects.

Each day-visitor to the International Festival for Business is worth £54 to the local area, while overnight visitors bring in an average of £271 each. Additionally, of the 49 contracts tendered and awarded to deliver the event, 25 went to companies in Liverpool, with a total value of £979,000.

One company that benefited is Apposing, a mobile development firm which has in the past done work for major brands including Nando’s, Land Rover and Carphone Warehouse from its Liverpool base.

The firm was awarded a contract to create the official mobile apps for the International Festival for Business, utilising a system called “Beacon” that it built from scratch. The feature allows delegates to see where others are, message each other and easily set up meetings. The company hopes that data gathered from users of the app will be used by businesses in the city for marketing purposes.

Apposing is just one example of local talent procured by Liverpool Vision and Clarion-Montgomery, the festival’s organisers. Others include event production company Adlib and Siren, which was hired to cater for the expected 250,000 delegates at the festival’s events.

Dave Brown, Apposing’s founder, believes that the event is critical in showing that Liverpool is on the map when it comes to digital industry.

“It’s really important to showcase the talent we’ve got here as there are some really innovative companies in the city that are doing great things,” he added. “People should recognise how good Liverpool is in various industries.

“For example, we’re still one of the main players in gaming. Even though some of the bigger companies have disappeared, the area has spawned a lot of new developers, from independents right through to large firms with more than 50 employees creating things for PS4.

“When other locations are being talked about from a gaming or digital point of view, Liverpool needs to be on the map as well. There have been times we’ve been forgotten about but we just need to shout our case really, and that’s what we’re doing at the International Festival for Business.”