Liverpool today launched a campaign to raise £2m in sponsorship and find ways of filling the 10,000 sq ft stand at Expo Shanghai in two years' time.
In the first formal public meeting to discuss the prestigious delegation – Liverpool is the only UK city outside London going – members of the property community were among those urged to get involved in selling the city's wares to China and the world.
Mike Taylor, director of Liverpool Vision, said Liverpool would be part of the urban best practice pavilion and firms with regeneration, architecture and design, development and construction pedigrees should be there in strength.
The World Expo takes place every five years and was last held in Japan. The Shanghai 2010 event will cover a 5.8 sq km exhibition area, last for six months from May to October and is expected to attract 70m visitors.
Liverpool competed against 100 other international cities to win one of 40 places at the showcase, dubbed the 'Business Olympics'.
The theme of the Expo is Better City, Better Life and will be arranged into five zones: harmony, prosperity, science, communities and rural-urban interaction.
No sponsorship packages have yet been drawn up by Liverpool, although the council has pledged £300,000 already, and all speakers said the city would only maximise the potential of the lengthy visit with deep support from business. The annual, week-long Mipim trip to Cannes in March costs Liverpool City Council and its partners £300,000. Estimates from the audience and panel of the likely cost of Shanghai ranged from £1m to 'at least £2m'.
Drummond Bone, chairman of the Liverpool-Shanghai Partnership, formed in 2006, and vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool, said the bid reinforced the value of its official twinning with Shanghai in 1999.
He said: "Liverpool was encouraged to make this bid by Shanghai's political leaders – and we now know how well Liverpool is thought of in China. This is our opportunity to drive home the huge advantage of our twinning to position Liverpool as one of the prime locations in Europe for Chinese investment."
Liverpool University has a stake in a university in neighbouring Suzhou and will welcome its first 90 Chinese students here to Liverpool in 2009.
A delegation of council leaders and private sector representatives including Lindsey Ashworth and John Whittaker from Peel Holdings visited Shanghai in July 2007. Six delegations have since visited from Shanghai and Liverpool will return in September this year.
Peel is currently seeking a Chinese joint venture partner to help build the 1m sq ft, 60-storey Shanghai Tower at Princes Dock in Liverpool to anchor its Liverpool Waters mega-scheme.
- Firms interested in finding out more about participating in World Expo 2010 should contact Pam Carroll at Liverpool Vision on 0151 600 2948 or email firstname.lastname@example.org