Derbyshire Festival of Business launched at University

22 September 2021

The University of Derby, in partnership with Vision Derbyshire, has launched the Derbyshire Festival of Business, a new initiative which aims to celebrate the resilience of our business community over the past two years and help businesses capitalise on opportunities as the county recovers from the pandemic.

More than 150 business leaders and civic community groups attended today’s event (22 September 2021) at the University’s Enterprise Centre, where they heard about how they can get involved with the festival, which encompasses events, masterclasses and awards over the coming months, and culminates in a three-day Expo in the spring.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, welcomed guests to the event before handing over to a number of guest speakers, including the University’s Provost - Innovation and Research, Professor Warren Manning, and Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences, Professor Kamil Omoteso.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, which recently relocated to new premises at the University’s Enterprise Centre, spoke about the Chamber’s strategic partnership with the University and its support for the festival, which will involve the Chamber leading on several events and the Expos in the spring.

The event’s keynote presentation, ‘What Happens After Covid 19’, was delivered by Professor Marc Cowling, Head of Research and Innovation at the University’s College of Business Law & Social Sciences, and Ken Cooper, Managing Director of Venture Capital Solutions at British Business Bank.

Short video messages of support for the festival from the Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor, Barry Lewis, and the CEO of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Paul Wilson, were also played to attendees.

Following the presentations, attendees were invited to sign up to participate in the festival, network and visit the University’s Business Lounge, and a small exhibition of businesses, including Banks Mill Studios and Enterprise Centre tenants, along with Innovation Hothouse members.

Speaking after the event, Professor Omoteso, said: “We are delighted to have launched the Derbyshire Festival of Business to businesses and community leaders at the University today, alongside our partners, Vision Derbyshire and the East Midlands Chamber.

“This festival is an opportunity to showcase what our county has to offer, to identify current and future talent, and to create opportunities for collaboration between businesses, the University, policy makers and advisory organisations, which will help us build a strong, resilient and inclusive economy as we recover from the impact and challenges of the pandemic.”

Vision Derbyshire is a joint initiative involving the county council and district and borough councils in Derbyshire to improve outcomes for all its communities.

The festival’s programme of activities has been designed to give businesses the support and opportunities needed to revitalise the local economy following the pandemic and build-back-better by unleashing the talent that is available across region and showcasing the best practice and innovation that has been fostered over the last two years.

Community focused open days and Expo events will promote Derbyshire’s businesses to its residents, and visits between the University, local schools, colleges, and employers are planned to provide careers related advice and showcase local businesses to the next generation of employees.

Online and face to face master classes from leading professionals and academics in Derbyshire are planned to raise the profile of the county as a thought leader within the UK business community, and as a place to do business.

The festival will also celebrate the business and enterprise talent within Derbyshire at the Chamber’s Derbyshire Business & Enterprise Awards taking place on 12 November at Derbyshire County Cricket Club.

Councillor Tricia Gilby, Economic lead for Vision Derbyshire and Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, commented: “The Derbyshire Festival of Business is a great way of bringing the business community together because we need to cooperate in order to recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The event is really broad and aims to support the entire business community from new graduates to established leaders. I hope lots of residents will take part in the many events on offer.”

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, added: "We are proud to be part of a fantastic new event that will showcase the best of business across Derbyshire, a county that is home to some incredible examples of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

"The Chamber is a conduit for local companies to work closer together, share advice and seek new opportunities - something that has never been more important than right now as the economy recovers.

"Working alongside our strategic partner the University of Derby, we look forward to welcoming businesses to events over the autumn."

Learn more about the Derbyshire Festival of Business.

Professor Kamil Omoteso speaking at the Festival of Business launch