The first Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival drew to a close on Friday (1 December) following two weeks packed full of exciting, diverse and stimulating business events, staged across the whole region.
In its inaugural year, the Festival - developed by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub and partnered by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), has already become the biggest business event in the region.
During the fortnight, over 100 events took place – 17 of which were completely sold out. The number of booked tickets soared to more than 4,000 with nearly 25 per cent of attendees visiting Coventry and Warwickshire from outside of the region.
Remarkably, in its first year, the Festival even gained international presence with visitors from Italy and Nigeria as well as delegations flying in from France, Catalonia and Sweden specifically for Business Festival events.
Over the past two weeks, Coventry and Warwickshire has enjoyed a huge variety of business events encompassing everything from virtual reality; logistics; accessing research, development and facilities at the two first-class universities in the area; manufacturing shows; tapping into the latest full fibre broadband connectivity; an impressive food and drink expo and a live Autumn Statement review; through to HR, data protection and digital workshops; a small business conference; tourism and hospitality seminars; property and construction events and an opportunity to speak directly to the Bank of England!
Jonathan Browning, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Margot James, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, gave a fantastic endorsement to the Business Festival in her presentation at the launch. It is great to have the support of government for all the great work that is going on in Coventry and Warwickshire.
The Festival has illustrated the potential of our region as a beacon for investment with the number of businesses of all sizes that have been involved.
“It has demonstrated exactly what Coventry and Warwickshire has to offer to draw investors into the region and highlighted our strengths in a wide range of sectors.
“The news this week that Coventry and Warwickshire is to be the home of the new £80 million National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility and international aerospace and defence engineering group Meggitt is to build a £130 million facility at Ansty Park in Coventry, again emphasises our national and global appeal.
“We set out to engage with the business community throughout our region, create a forum for engaging and collaborating and to demonstrate that Coventry and Warwickshire is the Knowledge Capital of the UK – and that has been achieved.”
Craig Humphrey, managing director of the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP Growth Hub, said: “We are delighted with how the first Business Festival has gone and the way that the region has pulled together to make it such a success.
“Over the past two weeks, we have seen an abundance of innovation, learning and sharing, networking and collaboration – all by business for business. The Business Festival has certainly placed Coventry and Warwickshire on a national stage by showcasing the amazing knowledge, commerce and culture present here.
“We committed to creating a successful 2017 Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival. With 86 per cent of businesses confirming that the Business Festival has positively affected their business and 99 per cent of the businesses rating the events they attended as ‘good to excellent’, we are pleased to say we have achieved this.
“I am looking forward to the 2018 Business Festival and would like to urge businesses and individuals to pledge their support to get involved right now – whether this is through sponsorship, hosting events or becoming a venue partner.”
The MTC is the 2017 Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival the headline partner. Technical Director Ken Young, who spoke at the Festival’s opening and closing event, said: “The feedback from this first Coventry & Warwickshire Business Festival has been incredibly positive and the Manufacturing Technology Centre is proud to have supported such a successful event.
“It has definitely illustrated the region’s talents and its ambition to be recognised as the Knowledge Capital of the UK.
“The support from across the region has been immense, with so many individual events providing thousands of people across the region an opportunity to expand and exchange their knowledge to enhance themselves and drive business engagement.
“We have been delighted to play our part, hosting a well-attended Manufacturers’ Day at the MTC, highlighting the latest innovation and technologies to drive productivity, while we also welcomed the FSB’s Small Business Conference.
“Our final act was to host the closing event to congratulate and recognise all those that made it such an overwhelming success and I am sure everyone is already looking forward to the 2018 Business Festival.”
The Festival has also been supported by a number of organisations which all understand the importance and relevance of the Festival and have contributed to its success. These include Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry University, Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Warwick. Sponsors include CityFibre, Coventry University Enterprises, the Federation of Small Businesses and The Futureworks.
The Festival has also been supported by Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, Coventry City Council, Deeley Construction, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council, Tisski, Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council.