The University of Central Lancashire have been working with Downtown Business in Lancashire to further understand the challenges facing the region’s business community.
Downtown in Business (DiB) was established in 2004 as a business club aimed at providing leadership to the private sector by articulating the views of its members to public sector agencies. The aim has always been to create networking environments that attract entrepreneurs, high growth companies and the regions big hitters.
Over the years DiB has earned a reputation as one of the most influential business organisations in the North West, influencing public sector agendas. They achieve this by organising events across the North West and beyond, hosting award dinners, and attracting prominent speakers and political figures to share views and best practice.
During 2013 UCLan became heavily involved in working with the team to help shape Lancashire Business Week and the Lancashire Business Growth Conference which followed.
A series of panel debates took place in June 2013 pulling together businesses, entrepreneurs and agencies to debate key issues facing the region’s businesses. The Dean of UCLan’s Lancashire Business School Dharma Kovvuri sat on the panel discussing skills within the region. They looked at what can be done to ensure that not only college and university students leave with the correct skills for business, but how can businesses work in partnership with the education sector to further professionally develop their workforce.
The discussion around ‘Selling Lancashire’ saw UCLan’s Pro-Vice Chancellor, Rod Dubrow-Marshall comment around the University’s impact on the region, and the important role its staff and students played in the 2012 Preston Guild and the desire to help retain talent within the region to support business growth.
Lancashire Business Week culminated with ‘The Huddle’ presented at UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio and brought together the week’s panel members along with the wider business community in Lancashire to share the outcomes from the week-long discussions.
Lancashire Business Week was then followed by the inaugural Lancashire Business Growth conference which took place in October 2013. The event started with a promotional video, filmed by UCLan graduate Marc Fleetwood who has recently set up a film production company, Two Peculiar Productions, the video highlighted some of the key messages from Lancashire Business Week and profiled some of the panel members which set the tone for the proceedings.
Among the keynote speaker were Ruth Connor from Marketing Lancashire and Ajaz Ahmed, best known as the founder of Freeserve, who delivered his highly entertaining presentation ‘Cut the Crap’. UCLan graduates Tom Stables and Nathaniel Cassidy who set up their integrated marketing agency 3ManFactory in 2011 with help from the University’s start-up support delivered their fast-paced and informative session on social media.
UCLan’s Head of Innovation and Enterprise John Lonsdale presented the University’s business offering, including access to student and graduate expertise, access to innovation through academic support, professional training and development and the business support programmes available to the region’s business community. The event was incredibly well attended and received with presenters, attendees and sponsors looking to run a follow up event in 2014.