Connect with us


Liverpool Hosts International Innovators at IFB2016



This year’s three week International Festival for Business (IFB2016) opened yesterday at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre. IFB2016 is the premier event of the business calendar and will showcase the best of British innovation, design and creativity to an international audience. More than 30,000 delegates are expected to attend this year’s IFB2016.

The largest global showcase of great British industries and sectors in a generation, IFB2016 will provide a platform for business leaders, established giants of British industry, entrepreneurs of high-growth businesses and unsung heroes of SMEs. The second bi-annual festival brings together more than 90 international businesses with the aim of forging the links that deliver strong commercial outcomes for the British economy.

IFB2016 has three themed weeks, which focus on industries within advanced manufacturing, energy and environment, and creative and digital. The themes are being brought to life by more than 80 events that will discuss, debate and highlight the expertise that the UK possess in the industries that will shape the future.

Sitting at the centre of the festival at Exhibition Centre Liverpool and acting as a backdrop to the wide variety of events and activities is the GREAT British Showcase – an experiential selection of the best in British design, innovation and creativity.

Running throughout the Festival will be the IFB2016 Blue Skies programme, a selection of thought provoking sessions that will be free for all to enjoy. These will intersperse daily events with a highlight being the early evening talks with business leaders, statesmen, entrepreneurs and thinkers to end each day on a high.

Speakers throughout the three weeks include:

  • Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Business Secretary
  • FW De Klerk, former South Africa President
  • Jaan Tallin, co-founder, Skype
  • Max Conze, CEO of Dyson
  • John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport
  • Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President of the EU Commission
  • Lord Jim O’Neill, Commercial Secretary to HM Treasury
  • Sir Terry Leahy, Chairman of B&M Retail
  • Lord Heseltine
  • Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF
  • Ian Stuart, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC
  • Catherine Raines, CEO of UKTI
  • Joe Anderson OBE, Mayor of Liverpool
  • Jean-Pascal Tricoire, CEO of Schneider Electric
  • Yves Leterme, former Belgian Prime Minister
  • Frank Klaas, MD of Deutsche Borse
  • Ronnie Chan Chi Chung, Hong Kong Property Magnate
  • Bo Inge Andersson, CEO of AvtoVAZ, Russia
  • Naveen Jain, Co-founder and Chairman of Moon Express
  • Shaikha Al Maskari, Chairwoman of Al Maskari Holding
  • Martin Richenhagen, Chairman of AGCO Corporation
  • Dhruv M. Sawhney, Chairman of Triveni Engineering & Industries
  • Takumi Shibata, CEO of Nikko Asset Management Co.
  • Shirley Yeung, Founder & Managing Partner of Dragonrise Capital
  • William Zhang, Chairman of the Europe-China Culture and Economy Commission
  • Nicola Horlick, CEO of Money&Co
  • Hamid Karzai, former President of Afghanistan
  • Ademola Adeyemi-Bero, MD of First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company
  • Kola Karim, CEO of Shoreline Energy International
  • Hiroki Miyazato, Chairman of Haitong Bank
  • Jürgen Meier, CEO of Siemens UK
  • Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria

IFB2016 is the biggest business event of its kind in the world and a core part of government efforts to boost exports and increase inward investment. It is a major platform for UK innovation and follows the inaugural Festival in 2014, which generated £280 million of investment deals and export sales.

The festival’s main partners are HSBC, BT and Google. Official supporters are Arup, DLA Piper, DONG Energy, Heathrow, PwC, Siemens and Virgin Trains.

Max Steinberg CBE, Chair of IFB2016 commented: “IFB2016 will be the biggest festival of its type in the world. It builds on the exceptional success of the inaugural festival in 2014 and promises to be even more exciting. Packed into three weeks we have an exceptional array of eighty events, thought provoking talks on the Blue Skies stage and a GREAT British Showcase that highlights the best UK innovation, design and creativity. Starting today the festival will be a place where ideas are shared, connections made and deals done.”

IFB2016 is expected to attract more than 30,000 delegates from the UK and overseas, it will be a thriving marketplace for companies to create connections and do deals.

In addition to the events IFB2016 offers through the free membership of the IFB2016 Business Club:

  • “Meet Your Future Deal” one-to-one appointments with suppliers, buyers and investors
  • “Meet the Specialist Advisor” A range of free business services including legal, financial and marketing advice
  • Global events such as TEDx, Accelerate 2016 and the Horasis Global Meeting
  • Large-scale networking receptions
  • The “Blue Skies” programme – inspiring talks from leaders in the fields of business, innovation and technology

Delivered by Liverpool Vision in partnership with UK Trade & Investment and the GREAT Britain Campaign, IFB2016 will feature, in addition to the GREAT British Showcase, the Exporting is GREAT Export Hub, and a changing, interactive display of UK industry sectors and inward-investment opportunities.

IFB2016 will showcase the UK as the go-to place to do business and will build on the success of IFB2014, which attracted companies from 92 countries and facilitated export and investment deals worth over £280 million.

The festival will take place at Exhibition Centre Liverpool, a state-of-the-art event complex on the city’s iconic waterfront. There will be a rich and varied cultural programme for delegates to enjoy while in Liverpool – a former European Capital of Culture.

Attending the festival is free, but to get involved with the many and varied facets of the festival delegates must register for the online IFB2016 Business Club.

Membership of the IFB2016 Business Club will give delegates and visitors access to free advice from specialists in legal, accounting, translation, regulation and exporting. In addition, there is a digital matching service that will arrange meetings from delegations looking to do deals. Finally, all the details of the attendees at events that a visitor registers for thorough the IFB2016 Business Club will be available.



Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?



self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo |

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.


Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

Continue Reading


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


Continue Reading