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Downtown hosts Second Annual Change Makers Live Conference to great acclaim

Over 100 business leaders and representatives from across the Liverpool region and beyond gathered for the second annual Change Makers Live Conference 2024 in Liverpool.

Over 100 business leaders and representatives from across the Liverpool region and beyond gathered on Thursday 18th April 2024 for the second annual Change Makers Live Conference 2024 in Liverpool, hosted by Downtown in Business.

Returning for a second year by popular demand to the fabulous Spine Building, Change Makers Live is a national Business & Innovation conference designed with the aim of exploring innovative solutions to the challenges facing the UK and global economy in the twenty-first century.

This unique event invited some of the county’s Leading entrepreneurs, academics, thinkers, and politicians to join us to discuss the key issues that are affecting businesses across sectors, not just in the UK, but around the world and start to offer innovative solutions to address these difficulties.

Last years event brought together speakers from a wide range of sectors and industries as well as the best and brightest in business talent including business leaders and decision makers, and at this years event the line up was even more star studded with

Speakers such as Jo Phillips, former adviser to both Paddy Ashdown and Bob Geldof and Nathan McNamara, chief executive DB3 Group joined us to give talks at the event.

A big thank you goes to our friends BDP Design, Bruntwood SciTech, Catapult, the House of Wisdom Group, the Knowledge Quarter, and the Liverpool BID Company sponsoring the event.

The conference got off to a great start with attendees arrived to a scrumptious networking breakfast which provided a great opportunity to network, grab a coffee and a bite to eat, and of course visit some of the brilliant exhibitors who had stands at the event this year including BDP, Liverpool BID Company, Connected Places Catapult, Wild Thang, City of Liverpool College, Printroom UK, Mutual Credit and Base Communications.

Downtown Chief Executive Frank Mckenna then gave a welcome speech to attendees in which he spoke about the importance of collaboration and connection and gave his two cents on what the day ahead might hold!

In our first talk of the day ‘The Future is Co-operation’ we heard from Rose Marley, chief executive Co-operatives UK, who shared her experiences working in sectors such as the creative industries, technology, the gig economy and entrepreneurship and discussed how co-operation affects everything from AI to public funding and why it’s important to changemakers.

She reiterated Frank’s comments on the importance of collaboration saying, “We have to co-operate, to co-operate to build a better world is what we’re all about we’ve got to work together to make sure that what we’re delivering across the world in a global sense is working. I don’t disagree that it is a scary time but I’m here to put forward an alternative option”

Our next talk, the Innovative Design & Placemaking panel discussion, hosted by Emily Robson, (Assistant Chief Executive at Knowledge Quarter Liverpool), brought together Change Makers Ged Clouser (Principal Architect, BDP Design), Colin Sinclair (Chief Executive Knowledge Quarter Liverpool) Jessica Bowles (Director of Strategy, Bruntwood SciTech) and Chris Bishop (Senior Project Manager, Muse) to discuss Social Value In Place Making and how companies and new developments can contribute to their communities. There was discussion of the importance of green spaces in place making and how developments should focus on incorporating green spaces to promote people’s mental health and well being.

After a short break which provided more opportunities for networking (and another chance to grab that all important coffee!) we heard from the DIB Innovators Jo Phillips (former advisor to Paddy Ashdown & Bob Geldof and Social commentator) Nathan McNamara (Chief Executive DB3 Group) and Jason Futers (Director Innovation & Growth, Lincoln City Football Club) who shared their insights on how innovation can address the health and wealth inequalities between the North and the South and how we should be creating spaces that suit multiple stakeholder groups, and actually cater to the varied needs of the people they serve, e.g. Send schools that offer varied facilities rather than a one size fits all.

Our panel talk The Mission To Democratise Knowledge featured John Kelley-Quinn, Silvana Cory-Wright, Sean Sweeney and Dr Paul Colrain from the House of Wisdom Group, who discussed the future of learning and sharing knowledge. They spoke about their prototype solution to collective knowledge gathering and disseminating knowledge, a search engine where If you put in a question it will direct you to a person or solution best placed to answer.

The How To Catapult Growth panel talk, facilitated by Alex Cousins, (Business Director of Connected Places Catapult) featured Rachael Stevens, (Knowledge Quarter Liverpool), Natalie Reeves-Billing, (Author), and Ruth Wood, (Chief Executive, Mersey Maritime) who discussed Business Growth and the best methods to foster and drive growth in various sectors and industries in the region. In particular they spoke of the importance of including the next generation in plans for growth and inspiring young children by demystifying some of the careers they might want to enter. They discussed their new story book aimed at trying to inspire children by explaining in an accessible way, some of the innovations happening in Liverpool.

Lunch provided an opportunity for attendees to pick the brains of anyone they hadn’t had a chance to yet, with more networking and some quality food.

After lunch we heard from The Disruptive Developer and guru in the property industry Tim Heatley, Co-Founder, Capital & Centric a ‘disruptor’ property development company. Who shared some of his insights and experiences on current affairs in the property industry. He discussed regeneration and creating demand in a place where it doesn’t exist, and how this can help to rejuvenate a stagnant economy.

The conference ended with the important point that We Can’t All Be Scientists And Professors! As we heard from Elaine Bowker (Principal, City of Liverpool College), Sophie Gilmore (Chief Executive, HybridTec), Emily Robson (Assistant Chief Executive, Knowledge Quarter Liverpool) and Steven Hesketh, Hospitality Hero, who discussed how diversity in sectors and careers is key. They spoke on how the current education system isn’t set up for non-traditional routes and only geared towards the traditional path of academia which is of course not the only route out there. They believe that since the economy has changed beyond recognition, our education system needs to change with it.

Steven Hesketh said: “When I come to a conference like this I’m always inspired by all the stories and all the amazing work we’re all doing”

Finally to wrap up what had been a fascinating day of networking and insights, it was time to head across the road for a drinks reception & networking at the Novotel Hotel.

Dowmtown Chief Executive Frank McKenna said: “This year’s Change Makers Live Conference saw some amazing insights from our members and many of the delegates form valuable and long-lasting connections.

Thank you to our experts for taking the floor to share their thoughts and unique perspectives and experiences on everything from innovation and tech, to learning, and entrepreneurialism.

We were delighted to see such fantastic input and participation from all the attendees and that we are able to host important events like the Change Makers Conference, that really highlight the passion and drive for growth that unites our members.

With a fantastic range of keynote speeches and panel discussions, the conference certainly brought together a phenomenal range of viewpoints and pooled the collective experience and knowledge of the very best and brightest in the worlds of business, academia, and the public sector, all for our members benefit.

We look forward to hosting similar successful events in future, see you at the next one!

For more information on upcoming DIB events contact

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