Environment, food and rural affairs are well represented in this year’s Leicester Business Festival from 29 October to 9 November.
This broad sector ranges from food and drink manufacturing and production, agriculture and rural economy to environmental activities such as low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainability. They all play a vital part in the local economy.
The low carbon sector alone is estimated to have a market value of around £2 billion. It is not necessarily widely known but Leicestershire has specialisms in solar panels, wind energy, recycling, sustainable building, offshore power, ‘smart grid’ development and electric vehicle servicing. The area has actually become a centre of excellence for the development of low carbon technology - fundamentally stemming from the excellent work being carried out in the three universities and enterprises such as MIRA Technology Park.
Environment events in the Business Festival include an active sustainable travel roadshow on Friday 2 November, where businesses can learn about free initiatives to cut travel costs and simultaneously improve staff health & wellbeing.
The Harborough district is also coming together to try and solve the problem of plastic. Harborough Innovation Centre is looking for graphic designers, product designers, creative thinkers, finance specialists, marketers, managers, leaders and business people from all walks of life to come together as part of this exciting one-day hackathon on Wednesday 7 November.
Rural Business Festival events see the National Farmers Union once again aiming to help to drive farming businesses forwards and make agriculture viable on Thursday 8 November. Interestingly, there are 5000 people employed in agriculture and farming in Leicestershire, and 80 per cent of the county’s land is used for agriculture.
The links between agriculture and food and drink are strong, particularly in areas like Melton Mowbray, which is world-renowned for its’ regional produce such as pork pies and cheese. There are 13,200 people employed in food and drink manufacturing and the industry brings £600m into the local economy with a combination of larger businesses and smaller producers across a wide range of products from pies and curry to local beer, wine and gin.
Newly developed areas like the Leicester Food Park, provides high quality food manufacturing space with purpose-built units on a 1.5-acre site, supports new and established food businesses.
Such local food and drink producers might be interested in a ‘once-in-a-blue-moon’ opportunity at East Midlands Airport to get their products onto the supply chain of HMSHost – the global company who stock airports all over the world.
The Food & Drink Forum is also offering a session for food and drink manufacturers on 1 November, looking to understand the legal requirements around food labelling since new regulations were introduced in 2014.
John Everitt (pictured below) is Chief Executive of the National Forest Company and is the Business Festival Sector lead for environment, food and rural. He said, “Leicester and Leicestershire has a strong tradition of food and rural businesses, and hosts some of the most exciting environmental projects in the country such as the National Forest.
“I am delighted to be associated with the Business Festival and the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the potential of the sector for business growth that also delivers an enhanced environment and thriving rural communities.”
Business Festival events are free and open to anyone to attend, however, tickets must be booked in advance through the website or via the new LBF app, free to download from Google Play or the Apple store.
Along with headline partners, Leicester Castle Business School, the 2018 Festival has the support of well-known business organisations including East Midlands Chamber; LLEP Business Gateway; East Midlands Airport; Brewin Dolphin; University of Leicester School of Business; Highcross Leicester; Shakespeare Martineau; and the FSB.
Other supporters include Everards Brewery; De Montfort University; Pattersons Commercial Law; Growth Partners PLC and the Institute of Directors, as well as official app partner Infonote; AV media partner, The Presentation Group; Coffee partner, 200 degrees; and media partners, Cross Productions and Capital Radio.