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Grand Depart International Business Festival forges economic legacy

The first ever International Business Festival (IBF) to bring senior decision-makers from industry, government, enterprise and academia together alongside the Tour de France Grand Départ (July 2nd-4th) is set to define a world-beating, legacy approach to foreign and domestic investment, whilst generating millions in new business.

Leading panellists have been brought together for the sector-led delegate programme by Leeds and Partners in association with UK Trade and Investment. The programme drives the city region agenda, showcasing the vibrant business sector, extensive capabilities and diverse talent at the start of the world’s largest annual sporting event, when many influential business people from across the globe will arrive in the city region. The agenda has been planned to build investment ambitions, facilitate networking with key commercial figureheads and create environments which build sustainable, high-quality partnerships, whilst raising the profile of the UK among foreign investors with international ambitions.  

Trade Minister, Lord Livingston, said, “The eyes of the world will be watching Le Tour, and the Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate on a global stage the strength of Yorkshire and UK business in terms of creativity, quality design and world-class manufacturing.”  

AECOM, a global urban design and infrastructure consultancy that creates environmentally, socially and economically sustainable solutions to challenges brought about by rapid urbanisation and climate change, is sponsor of the city region programme.  

Steve Morriss, AECOM’s Chief Executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), says, “There is a real air of optimism to be found in Leeds as the city strides out of the recession and commercial development recommences. The significant investment in new infrastructure that will better connect the city to all major centres in the UK and globally, will further strengthen Leeds’ position as an exciting and important place to do business. The city is host to a number of high quality educational institutions meaning it has access to a pool of talent that is essential to a global professional services firm, such as AECOM. The city’s long history as a strong and adaptable business centre that never lost its identity is remarkable. Over the past two centuries, Leeds has transformed itself from a centre of industrial power and heavy engineering that exported locomotives around the world to a modern day financial and professional services centre exporting British expertise.”  

With a focus on Leeds’ increasing global reach, as it rises up the ranks to secure more investments and a higher market share of developments, the delegate programme will be of particular interest not only for the informative content, high-profile networking and influential speakers, but in its own right for cities that wish to raise the profile of their regional agenda in promoting UK PLC’s future prosperity.  

Lurene Joseph, CEO of Leeds and Partners said “The power, performance and passion of the Tour De France Grand Départ provokes intense attention from across the globe, so couple this key event in the sporting calendar with some of the most innovative business gatherings and you have a heady mix. Leeds City Region is uniquely placed to unlock business growth for the wider UK economy by leveraging the enthusiasm and momentum around the world’s largest annual sporting event to help ensure the nation retains its top spot as the first destination of choice for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe*. The International Business Festival will be a significant catalyst for developing our pipeline of investment deals, pushing existing plans over the line, attracting inward investment and positioning the UK as a preferred destination for business and leisure travellers. There are business events of an exceptionally high calibre happening in all major UK cities this summer, so commercial opportunities abound whatever the size or sector. We look forward to presenting Leeds and its many assets on the world stage.”  

The events over four days, including a medical and surgical technologies simulation, dedicated investor days for developers and intermediaries and a Retail Innovation Summit, will explore future trends in retail, health innovation, infrastructure, development and financial and professional services, with several heavyweight speakers leading each agenda.  

The programme culminates in a keynote Economic Conference and the opportunity for select partners to come together to experience the excitement of the start of the 2014 race as a guest of the city at the Grand Départ hospitality in Millennium Square.

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