UCLan holds a new business festival this week to coincide with city lights switch-on

The festival includes a schools’ day, business breakfast, leadership conference and a Christmas market for the public.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is hosting a new Northern Lights Business Festival at the same time as Preston's Christmas light switch-on this week, allowing a chance for "business minds of all ages to light up the city with their entrepreneurial ideas".

Developed by UCLan’s Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise in collaboration with Preston City Council, the festival will take place on the University Square between

Wednesday November 17 and Saturday November 20.

The Northern Lights Business Festival opens on the University Square on Wednesday.

To coincide with the build-up to the city's Christmas lights switch-on, the festival will include a UCLan Students’ Union-organised craft and food market on November 19 and 20 ,

taking place on the University Square between 11.00am and 4.00pm.

UCLan’s Dr Eliza Morgan, a Reader in Innovation and Enterprise, who is organizing the festival, said: “It’s been our aim to develop a city-wide business festival for some time but of course the pandemic intervened in our original plans. Now, as the region’s businesses emerge into the ‘new normal’, we’re hoping this inaugural event will be the catalyst for entrepreneurial minds of all ages to come together to share ideas and best practice for the benefit of all.”

The festival opens on Wednesday with a schools’ day involving 164 Year 6 schoolchildren from five local primary schools: Tarleton Community, Howick Church of England, Lostock Hall Community, Penwortham Broad Oak and New Longton All Saints Primary School.

Co-designed by the headteachers of the five schools, the day aims to develop business and enterprising skills amongst Year 6 students and celebrate their achievements.

The young entrepreneurs will be asked to develop a creative and exciting family event to attract visitors to Preston for a Christmas lights switch-on, and a panel of senior UCLan managers will judge the children’s efforts with the best ideas coming to life in the next festival, scheduled for 2022.

The headteacher of Tarleton Community school, Chris Upton, who will also be one of the speakers during the festival, said: "The schools that are going are part of our Axia Learning Alliance and UCLan has recently joined us as a partner, so we're really excited as it's the first time that it's really benefiting the children.

"For us, in schools we do lots of enterprise activities but making it real, as UCLan has done for us with the task and with the expertise of the business leaders in the county, is just a really exciting opportunity for the children and the schools."

Other festival highlights include a business breakfast followed by a leadership conference, which turns the spotlight on leadership, business and enterprise within the region and is themed around the subject ‘Leading in Dangerous Times’.

Attendees include a wide range of regionally based speakers whilst delegates and facilitators are drawn from public, private and third sector organisations across a range of leadership roles.

Speakers include senior UCLan staff, such as Vice Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin, the founder of Lytham Gin, Sara Dewhurst, the Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services, Edwina Grant OBE, the Chief Executive of Preston City Council, Adrian Phillips, the Bishop of Blackburn, as well as the Centre Manager and the President of the Gujarat Hindu Society in Preston.

Dr Morgan added: “Just as the Lancashire Science Festival is now an established ‘go to’ event for people across the county, we aim to replicate that impact over the next three years

as we develop the Northern Lights Festival. Our ambition is to expand collaboration with regional partners including businesses, public and third sector organisations and local

residents to meet the City’s objectives for recovery and growth.”

Anyone interested in helping to shape the vision and future development of the Northern Lights Festival should email: [email protected]