Well over 3,000 business managers and entrepreneurs converged on the Kent Event Centre on 10th May for the twelfth edition of the UK’s leading regional business event: Kent Vision LIVE 2017.
If you missed the event (or even if you didn’t), you can watch a condensed version of the day in this short highlights video, filmed and produced by event partner Lavender Blue Media.
The overall sentiment at the event suggested that, despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and next month’s general election, spirits seem to be running high in Kent’s rapidly expanding business community, which event partner The KM reported this month has exceeded 100,000 companies for the first time ever.
Kicking off the main event at 9.30am was ITV’s Robert Peston, one of the UK’s best-known commentators on the increasingly complex world of economics, business and politics. With every seat occupied, the event organisers had to stream a video link of Robert’s opening keynote into an adjacent room to accommodate latecomers.
Drawing on a combination of current and historical trends, Robert outlined the underlying socio-economic factors behind recent shocks to the ‘traditional’ world order, including the unexpected result of the Brexit referendum, Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the election of a political outsider in France.
Examining the tense early-stage negotiations between the UK and the European Union, Robert believes that both sides already know they cannot remain intransigent – but can only soften their respective stances once this year’s UK and German elections are safely out of the way. To stand any realistic chance of reaching a workable solution, it seems inevitable that the two main stumbling blocks will eventually need to be resolved simultaneously, with the UK and the remaining EU states agreeing the final ‘divorce bill’ at the same time as they agree out an outline post-Brexit trade deal – not by trying to resolve these as separate matters.
Possibly encouraged by getting some clarity on the overall economic outlook, visitors seemed determined to have a productive day from that point on, with many staying right through to 4pm and thousands of positive business conversations taking place over the next five and a half hours.
Additional highlights included inspirational success stories from Frazer Thompson of Chapel Down Group, TV Chef and local entrepreneur Rosemary Shrager and Dragon’s Den star Caner Veli from Liquiproof. Rugby legend Mike Tindall was posing for selfies with visitors on the Hospitality Finder stand and over a hundred of the county’s largest and fastest-growing businesses came together for a special VIP Lunch, hosted by Brachers and Grant Thornton with a live debate chaired by the IoD’s chief economist James Sproule.
On the main floor of the exhibition, four focused seminar streams looked at the latest developments in marketing, business technology, employment challenges and support for new businesses. For the first time, the workshop rooms featured state-of-the-art Bluetooth headsets to help the audience immerse themselves completely in the content of the sessions, which proved extremely popular with participants and even allowed exhibitors to tune in from nearby stands if they wanted.
By the end of the day, both visitors and exhibitors were buzzing with excitement about the overall sense of optimism that had permeated through the event, as well as the high quality of the people they had met.
“We’ve had a truly fantastic day and it was probably the best Kent Vision LIVE ever,” said Rich Tribe, Joint Managing Director at Pembury-based organiser Revolution Events, as the show was breaking down that evening. “The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and nearly all of the new innovations have worked a treat, especially the new Bluetooth headsets, the decision to bring the keynote room alongside the main exhibition area and the inclusion of several speakers that can explain in down-to-earth language how macro-economic changes will impact companies in Kent. With the business landscape continuing to shift and none of these issues going away any time soon, next year looks likely to be even more exciting.”