DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE PRAISES BUSINESSES AT FESTIVAL
The Duke of Cambridge praised companies he met at the International Business Festival, saying those demonstrating on the UK Innovation Hub "exemplify the creativity and inventiveness of British firms".
Prince William, the Festival's patron, told a packed audience at the Futures Stage that businesses were "responsible for many things that are the bedrock of our society: quality of life, meaningful employment, prosperity and technological solutions".
"Many of the charities I work with cannot make progress unless they partner with business. That is why I'm particularly proud to be patron of a Festival that shares my belief that business can and must be an international force for good," said the Duke.
The duke began his tour of the Festival floor at Exhibition Centre Liverpool by entering a 360-degree immersive tech dome transported overnight from the US. He was transported to some of the city region's tourism and business highlights, from Liverpool's famous waterfront, through Anthony Gormley's Another Place installation of iron men at Crosby, to the front of a gig at Sound City and a snake-filled lab at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The first-of-its-kind equipment was brought to the UK by VR specialist Laduma, which has a base in the States as well as its HQ in the city, for the Invest Liverpool showcase.
And CEO Ben Smith said: "Prince William seemed genuinely interested in the content about Liverpool and also the technology, and asked lots of questions about how the projectors worked that showed a pretty impressive degree of understanding about how these things work.
"Then we talked about the potential benefits for educating the next generation using this type of tech."
June 19 - the fourth day of the Festival - was dedicated to Future Transport and in the UK Innovation Hub, the duke tried an electric moped for size.
"It's been amazing. I've only been here three hours and I've had Prince William sitting on my moped," said Grant Dudson, head of electric vehicle distribution for Cycl, a company that makes direction indicators for bicycles which is marketing the Italian-produced Askoll mopeds in the UK.
"I told him about the pollution levels in London killing 10,000 people a year and so he responded positively to our ideas."
From the Festival's Futures Stage, William praised the Festival's host city as embodying the UK's attitude of championing trade and commerce.
"The Business Festival is already demonstrating its success in bringing together international businesspeople to build networks and share knowledge," he said, referring to more than 100 overseas delegations from countries including India, China and across Europe. "Although our backgrounds may be different, we are all united by our shared connection through trade."
Jamie Clarke, CEO of Knowsley-based Clarke Energy - a Festival sponsor - said the prince had been impressed by their international performance. "He picked up that more than two-thirds of our business is outside the UK and was asking about our involvement in the festival. We said the value for us was the international audience because we're in 25 or 26 different countries."
At a stand promoting the Amazing Shanghai brand, William was transported to the centre of Liverpool's Chinese twin city thanks to a display produced by a 195-billion pixel camera.
"He said it was really smart," said Branding Shanghai president Jasmine Pang, adding that they had invited the duke to try out an augmented-reality tour of the city. "He pressed the touch-screen and was really impressed. The technology was created in Shanghai and it's a good way to promote the city," she added.
During his speech, William also touched on the problems many businesses have in finding a suitably skilled workforce.
"It is only by investing in the skills of our young people in enterprise that we will be able to build the fair and prosperous society that we want our children to inherit," he said.
"That’s why I’ve been particularly impressed by the emphasis that the Business Festival has placed on developing the next generation of business leaders."
The Duke called in on #NextGenFest, the programme for 16 to 24-year-olds put together by sponsor HSBC, where he heard from youngsters involved in the Young Enterprise programme.
They included the organisation's ambassador Luke Liddiard, who told William how the annual competition helped him turn his life around, from having ended up sleeping rough after a family breakdown to setting up a company making hand-tooled gifts from reclaimed wood.
Jasmine Alsop and Ben Berry, both 18, from Cheshire College (South) in Crewe told the prince about their company, Illuminite, which sells 'Festibags' - bumbags equipped with handy items like toothbrushes, portable phone chargers, rain ponchos and hand sanitizer to festival-goers.
"I didn't realise he'd be so interested in what everyone was doing," said Jasmine. "And he had a real sense of humour because he said he wasn't really a festival-goer himself."
"He knew what our product was and asked us all about our personal experience," said Ben. "Today has an been amazing experience and after taking part in Young Enterprise I really feel like I could just go off and start my own business."