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UoM hailed ‘city’s greatest innovation asset’ at Festival of Business

03 Jul 2024

The University of Manchester was recently hailed the city’s ‘greatest innovation asset’ at Alliance Manchester Business School’s inaugural Festival of Business.

Festival of Business panel at AMBS

Taking place from 25 - 27 June, the Festival of Business encouraged attendees to explore the role that businesses can play in helping society rise to the challenges and opportunities of the future. As part of the university’s bicentenary celebrations, the event celebrated AMBS as a beacon of original thinking, ready to help tackle business and society's challenges.  

Across a packed agenda of events and seminars, businesspeople, thought leaders and AMBS’s academic experts offered their insight and views on addressing the biggest social, economic, and technological changes we face. Attendees ranged from Chair of Booths Supermarkets Edwin Booth CBE and Vice President of Transformation at Ford Europe Will Periam to leading charities and non-profit organisations across the third sector.

Gaining the Edge

This included Gaining the Edge, which, in addition to providing a key networking opportunity, saw AMBS’ executive education team deliver a workshop exploring the role ESG, creativity, and digital marketing can play in delivering success in the sector.

Discussion topics included best practices for making an impact during volatile and uncertain times and the importance of genuine collaboration between the third sector and private enterprise in driving real change.

Business 2050

The festival closed with Business 2050 – a deep dive into the intersection of shifts in working culture, technological advances, and the role of purpose in business.

Kicking off a trio of keynote speeches and panel sessions was Will Periam, Vice President of Ford Europe and an alum of the University, who reflected on how Ford is grappling with the biggest market shifts it’s seen for a century before being joined in discussion with Matt Cobbold, Strategic Growth Manager at Palatine Private Equity, Sacha Jacobs, CFO at Fabacus and Judy Zolkiewski, Professor of Marketing to reflect on the need for business transformation in a time of significant change. 

Edwin Booth CBE, Chairman of Booths Supermarkets, then led discussions on ‘People & Society’, bringing to life his vision for a more employee-centric business model. Reflecting on the need to balance an organisation's needs with those of its workers, he argued that businesses must deliver more than just financial value. Joining Edwin were Lisa Shaftesley, HR Director for, and Professor Michelle Carter, Director of EDI for AMBS.

Lou Cordwell OBE, entrepreneur and Professor of Innovation Ecosystems, Patrick Vizzone, Honorary Professor and co-founder and CFO of Vertical Oceans, and Mohammad El Hajj, co-founder and CEO at Bright Biotech, then rounded off Business 2050 with their reflections on the changing tech landscape globally and how Manchester is preparing for the coming quarter century of social, economic and technological change. 

Community engagement

As part of the festival, The Business School hosted 50 pupils from Greater Manchester for a day of entrepreneurship and innovation hosted by the Masood Entrepreneurship Centre (MEC). Attending schools included Hazel Grove Sixth Form and Rochdale Sixth Form College.

The Festival was the latest in a year-long programme of events marking the University of Manchester’s bicentenary.

Ken McPhail, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “It was a pleasure to welcome such a wide range of attendees from across the business community to our campus this week to discuss some of the most pressing issues and opportunities facing us today – from net zero to the adoption of AI.

“This week provided a welcome opportunity to debate and listen to valuable insight from across the spectrum – a form of collaboration that will be integral in our efforts to drive business transformation and modernisation. The event was a great success, and we look forward to building on this platform with future iterations.” 

You can read further insights from the latest Alliance Manchester Business School magazine.