Why the UK’s Northern Powerhouse is a top trading destination for US firms

Known as a hub of industry and innovation, the Northern Powerhouse region of the UK offers plentiful opportunities for US businesses looking to invest or trade. Five of the UK’s 10 largest cities – Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – are located in the region, it is home to 15.2 million people, and generates 19% of UK GDP.  Known as the cradle of industry in the UK, the region is home to thriving industries such as technology, transport, manufacturing and creative sectors, as well as a range of regeneration projects, and the 2018 International Business Festival is also hosted in the city of Liverpool, facilitating global trade and networking. As the region goes from strength to strength in 2018, the time is ripe for American firms with global ambitions to do business with the UK.

The rise and rise of the North West

The North West region of the Northern Powerhouse is becoming central for trade between the East and West and prominent North West cities of Manchester and Liverpool offer significant opportunities to American businesses.

As one of the leading ports of the 19th century, Liverpool has a strong mercantile history that saw it transport people, ideas and products all over the world. This exporting heritage is evident today. Liverpool is one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy outside the south east and a leader in several areas such as health and life sciences, engineering and advanced materials with companies like Jaguar Land Rover and Dong renewable energy basing UK operations there.

Liverpool offers best-in-class facilities – including the Liverpool2 container superport, the biggest on the UK west coast and a practical, efficient alternative to trading via London – also make it an attractive destination for US businesses looking to expand and access the UK market.

The presence of several world-class universities contributes to a multi-billion pound life sciences sector in Liverpool, which produce thousands of highly-skilled graduates who settle in the area. The universities are also an integral part of developing the city’s low carbon energy sector.

Liverpool is the beating heart of a northern start-up revolution with nearly 200 new businesses established in the city every year. Research from the 2018 International Business Festival has revealed entrepreneurs in Liverpool are the quickest in getting their business off the ground. Lively Liverpudlians were three times more likely to launch their business in just six months compared to entrepreneurs in Cambridge, Manchester and Birmingham.[1]

The city’s location had always made the process of doing business seamless. Historically Liverpool’s busy docks linked it to the world, and the modern day city is enviably positioned within transport networks: it is just 30 minutes from Manchester, a little over two hours from London by train, and within striking distance of two international airports.

Facilitating global trade and networking

With a celebrated trade history that still flourishes today, Liverpool is the natural home of the 2018 International Business Festival, which it will once again host in June. The event aims to support small and medium-sized companies to access the support and expertise they need to scale up, through strengthening import and export partnerships.

Taking place over nine days across three weeks, the 2018 Festival will bring together investors, innovators and business leaders from around the globe to make connections, share knowledge and do deals. Each day will focus on a different high-growth business sector, including global economics; future transport; global logistics and shipping; manufacturing; health and life sciences, sustainable energy, urbanisation and cities, creative industries and sport, culture and travel.

A total of 103 international delegations made up of 639 unique delegates visited the 2016 Festival, with 5 per cent coming from the US[2].  Max Steinberg, chair of the 2018 International Business Festival, said “The American business community is a critical audience for the 2018 International Business Festival. The US and UK business communities have a long history of collaboration and cross-border development. Our festival will provide a strong opportunity for start-ups, SMEs and larger corporations to develop import/export partnerships and generate new business.”

Hosted from 12-28 June 2018, the Festival is set to be bigger and bolder than ever before, with a  line up of well-known names and industry leaders of the future taking to the main Futures Stage, and valuable opportunities for US companies to engage with UK firms and government.

To find out more about the International Business Festival and buy tickets, visit www.internationalbusinessfestival.com


[1] Research was conducted by Coleman Parkes. 500 owners, directors and senior managers of SMEs with 9-100 employees across the UK were surveyed between March and April 2018.

[2] Independent research analysis conducted by SG Lingard, 2016