Collaborating for Growth
With 510 visitors, 85 exhibitors, 22 keynote and guest speakers and a full programme of workshops throughout the day, the first Collaborating for Growth event was a tremendous success.
Organised by Berkshire Media Group (BMG) with Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the show was supported by Segro, Bracknell Regeneration and Reading UK CIC.
The Madejski Stadium conference centre in Reading was the location for all the activities on Wednesday, April 18.
There was a very positive atmosphere at the event, with Reading Football Club having secured promotion to the Premier League the previous night. The day kicked off at 8am with a networking session in the Windsor Lounge.
Steve Lamb, chairman of the LEP, said: "The Collaborating for Growth show has brought together all sorts of synergies, including leadership, communication and co-operation.
"If we, in this region, are going to be a world class business environment, we have to step outside our comfort zone, we must be brave and we all need to be rowing in the same direction with the same vision.
"This is a region which deserves a Premier football club. As an LEP we have learned a lot about putting on an event like this and we will do it again in the future."
As the show came to a close, BMG's managing director Amanda Gee said: "It was a first event and it went really well. We have learned a lot from it, and certainly there are things we would do differently next time, but essentially it was as successful as we could have hoped. It can only get bigger and better."
BMG commercial manager Dene Tonna said: "The feedback has been extremely positive. The event did what it said it was going to do - collaborate and bring businesses together under one roof.
"Visitors have said they spoke to many interesting people which has resulted in the early stages of turning these new contacts into good business relationships.
"There have been comments on how well organised it was and praise for the key inspirational speakers. Many people have already asked to book into the next Collaborating for Growth event scheduled for November 2012.
"One email I received read: 'Great day. Extremely well organised. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
I met lots of people who I have spoken to but have never seen face to face. It was a great opportunity to put names to faces.'"
At the show it was only exhibitors who were the paying guests, everything else was free.
In the Windsor Suite, all the voluntary action groups were sponsored by the Berkshire Community Foundation.
Talking to visitors, each appears to have derived different benefits and experiences of the event.
Kathleen Nugent, educational consultant from the organisation, Opportunities for Young People, said: "This has certainly be very useful with regard to the information available on apprenticeships. I am interested in promoting STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) careers, and there are a number of relevant talks and lots of display stands which have been interesting and relevant."
Mary Stamp said: "It has been very useful. I have seen people I know, or have met at Biscotti and BMI networking events and have spoken to a few business people who may become useful contacts to me in the context of my human resource consultancy, All About the People Ltd."
Gary Boniface of Onyx Marketing said: "There is a good mix of companies and it is reasonably busy and I have had lots of conversations with people on the exhibition stands.
"I enjoyed the Reading Stadium tour, which I did at the start of the day, and attended some good and useful workshop sessions which are relevant to my sales and marketing company as a SME."
BERKSHIRE charities were in abundance at the Collaborating for Growth event, encouraging local businesses to dig deep for local causes.
Representatives from Reading Voluntary Action, Volunteer Centre Slough, Bracknell Forest Voluntary Action, the Slough Council for Voluntary Services and many others took up residence in nearly a dozen colourful and enticing stands within the Windsor Suite.
Andrew Middleton, chief executive at the Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF), said: "We had a really excellent day. It's the first time that the voluntary sector across Berkshire has been represented so fully and It was great to be able to be present as the BCF and Localgiving.com.
"We think that this type of event is important for us and we would really like to be invited to more of them. Making connections and building relationships will be key to us achieving our ambitions."
On the neighbouring stand to BCF, workers from Localgiving.com managed to recruit two new volunteers on the day. Their aim was to reach community groups, potential donors and expert volunteers, educating them about fundraising for Berkshire charities as an alternative to donating money to larger charities.
Helena Badger, volunteer development co-ordinator at Volunteer Centre Wokingham, was also trying to match volunteers to local opportunities.
She said: "We had a steady stream of people coming to the stand and we've been able to explain to them about the different schemes and types of volunteering.
"I found the event very useful and we made some very good contacts for the future.
"Networking is one of the most important things you get in a situation like this and I came across some really interesting people."