Our perspective on IFB2016

Our perspective on IFB2016

The International Festival for Business 2016 was held at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool over three weeks in June and welcomed more than 26,000 delegates from over 100 countries. The Kaleidoscope team got involved with a number of events, discussions and meetings during the festival and felt inspired to share our thoughts on what we saw.

Quality not quantity
This festival was a much-simplified format in comparison to 2014, with the majority of activity taking place in one location. This provided a real focal point for the plethora of presentations, talks and exhibitions; and also meant that there was a much better opportunity to meet and network with others from across the world, as everyone was in one place.

This more focused, concentrated format allowed us to start some great conversations that we are hopeful will lead to future opportunities, working in partnership with agencies in Ireland and Netherlands.

By focusing on the quality of the festival and not worrying so much about the sheer quantity of events and venues, the IFB has been a valuable tool for us and we imagine for many others too.

The very nature of a festival such as the IFB is to bring people together from many different countries. However, we found it equally valuable as a tool to help us reconnect with others on our doorstep. While we often head to many networking events across the North West and see many people, it was great to meet and rekindle relationships with some familiar faces in a different environment debating different issues. So perhaps we don’t have to go foraging for something new when we need to simply look on our own doorstep and revitalise those relationships.

Whichever event we attended, there was a great sense of openness, friendliness and transparency among the key note speakers and all the delegates around us. A willingness to share learning and experiences from many different parts of business. This was fantastic to be part of, and perhaps even better when the fringe events were taking place in the smaller local venues such as Constellations. At a time when the EU referendum debate was in full flight, this was quite an achievement! As a Liverpool-agency it was a pleasure to share this true Liverpool atmosphere with visitors.

Something new
The IFB also gave us the opportunity to try some new things out and learn a little too. There were some great opportunities to try out VR and learn about the role it is playing in the tech revolution across many industries, notably health. We introduced new people to our conversations against the backdrop of the IFB, such as bringing new people to the table at the Bank of England SME Panel to broaden the discussion. And we also learnt to become more comfortable with the fact that we can all be exporters – ourselves, as a service-based business, included.

All in all, the IFB was fruitful for us. Of course, there were things that weren’t great and areas that could be improved upon; however we’ve been left feeling positive and confident about our opportunities – both globally and locally.