De Montfort University’s new events centre The [email protected] played host to more than 100 business leaders and prominent figures from the region on Tuesday morning as the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) held a special breakfast event to launch this year’s Leicester Business Festival (LBF).

lbf-2016Delegates heard how in 2015, the LBF board had high hopes to schedule just 20 events and to gain community buy-in in to the concept. Instead, the inaugural festival succeeded at putting a marker in the region’s business calendar. With only 19 weeks lead time, LBF managed to centre the region’s business topics under one nationally focused and internationally placed brand with exceptional results – 80 seminars, lectures, workshops and conferences all taking place within two weeks, attracting more than 7,500 visitors from across the UK and with an estimated reach of around two million people.

In 2016, the festival’s landscape has expanded exponentially. With more than 320 individual expressions of interest and 117 events currently confirmed, more than 12,500 people are expected to attend what is now dubbed “the region’s largest business event”. The reach of the festival has more than quadrupled to around 9.7m individuals and more than 322,000 on associated contactable databases – the ‘brand’ of the festival is clearly an unparalleled opportunity for the region.

Announcing this year’s programme, Leicester Business Festival board member Alister de Ternant said: “This year’s programme boasts some spectacular, highly topical and nationally important events which span right across the region and its sectors. Whether the subject is autonomous vehicle testing, speed networking, political and economic announcements or improving business productivity through Lego and yoga, LBF16 really has something for everyone.”

He continued: “In response to crucial feedback this year’s programme has been segmented into nine key business sectors and paralleled with the LLEP’s identification of sectors that hold the highest level of economic ‘opportunity’ for growth in the region.”

Industry sectors covered by the festival include distribution and logistics, food and drink production, tourism and hospitality, textiles manufacturing, low carbon, sport and health, advanced manufacturing and engineering, creative industries and professional services. Several of the sectors will be supported by such major industry bodies as the Department for International Trade, the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Make It British, the Federation for Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors and many others.

Leicester Castle Business School principal Professor Dana Brown said: “In addition to sponsorship, we are hosting 13 events in areas such as technology, arts and design and business and management. And we are looking for new ways to be part of the success story of our great city and its organisations.”

The breakfast launch was also used to announce that from next year the Leicester Business Festival would be a fully independent entity, run by a not-for-profit community interest company.

Alister de Ternant said: “It was always the intention for the Leicester Business Festival to develop in this way and we are extremely proud to say that due to the support of local businesses and the incredible success we have seen this year the festival will now be entirely self-sustainable.”

He added: “LBF was created for the benefit of our community in order to stand alone and drive inward investment and catalyse economic growth and so far it has managed to do just that. We are thrilled to be in a position that allows us to create such a vehicle that enables us to continue this critical path in promoting our region’s success.”

Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership chair Nick Pulley said that the continuing success of the Leicester Business Festival reflected the strength of the region’s economy and the quality, diversity and innovation of the local business community.

Pulley said: “Leicester and Leicestershire together boast the largest economy in the East Midlands and the fastest growing in the UK with a GVA (Gross Value Added) of around £22bn. The region’s rate of growth has even surpassed that of London so the Leicester Business Festival is perfectly placed to showcase the success of local businesses and what they have to offer.”

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