The leaders of Liverpool and Manchester addressed a high-level business audience at Manchester Town Hall last night to promote the cities' united efforts to host the International Festival for Business this year.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese were joined by Sir Terry Leahy, an IFB Ambassador and the former chief executive of Tesco, in urging businesses to get involved in the 50-day festival which takes place this summer.
Key themes of the festival include manufacturing, science & technology; maritime, logistics & energy; knowledge, professional & financial services; higher & further education & research; low carbon & renewables; cities, enterprise & urban business; knowledge, creative & digital.
During the entire seven-week festival, Place North West will hold a series of exhibitions and events reflecting the property angles of the festival's weekly themes at St Paul's Square in Liverpool's commercial business district, with details of the programme to be announced in February.
Also on the platform last night were Bruntwood chairman Michael Oglesby, Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein and Mike Blackburn, North West regional director of official festival partner BT and chairman of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.
Max Steinberg, chairman of IFB 2014 and chief executive of Liverpool Vision, the organisation leading the delivery of IFB 2014, set out the vision for this summer's festival and urged businesses to register for the festival.
- Register at ifb2014.com
He revealed that Manchester will host three festival events: Graphene Commercialisation & Applications on 25 – 26 June, a seminar and exhibition at the University of Manchester; Aerotropolis EMEA on 8 – 10 July, a conference and exhibition; and the International Business of Sport Congress on 16- 17 July, a global event unlocking the commercial and social power of sport.
Mayor Anderson said: "More unites us than divides us and the International Festival for Business is an example of how Liverpool and Manchester can work together for the interests of the North West.
"In a globally competitive market place for investment, Northern city leaders, businesses and universities need to collaborate if we are going to sustain the national economic recovery and IFB 2014 is an opportunity to show off our business acumen and excellence."
IFB 2014 is a global showcase of great British industry, bringing the world of business to Liverpool, the city region and the North West for 50 days in June and July 2014.
Comprising up to 200 events and a complementary cultural programme, including Royal de Luxe's Giant street theatre representing the UK's flagship 2014 WW1 commemoration event, the Festival is a key part of the government's ambition to promote economic growth, rebalance the economy and double UK exports by 2020.
The festival will also offer considerable opportunities for small and medium size businesses to make international connections, exchange new ideas, promote their products, create new partnerships and seek new sources of finance.
Sir Richard Leese opened the event and Sir Terry Leahy outlined the important opportunities the festival offers to Manchester businesses.
Sir Richard said: "England's major cities are economic power houses and we are determined to play our part in boosting the UK's prospects.
"It is vital if we are to create real growth in the north that Manchester and Liverpool work together where possible and I am sure that IFB's success will shine a light, not only on our two cities, but on the North West and the North of England too."
Following the speeches, there was a Q&A chaired by Mike Blackburn, North West regional director of official festival partner BT, one of the world's leading providers of communications services.
Blackburn said: "Britain's cities are a vital part of sustainable economic growth and it's fantastic that the North West is hosting this event.
"We are passionate about helping businesses to thrive and we want to play our part as an enabler and an engine for growth."