"Our idea for the Brexit conference stemmed from the number of SME and start-up businesses we have met through the EBM programme. It was clear there was a real need to help people who feel unprepared. "
Josh Ellwood, managing director at Happen Events
The three friends are second year students on the innovative Entrepreneurial Business Management (EBM) programme run by Newcastle Business School. Students on the three-year course work in small teams to make their business ideas a reality.
Aged between 20 and 25, Josh Ellwood from Leicestershire, Angus Currie from Newcastle and Patrick Rycroft from Cumbria were inspired to go into business together after successfully delivering two prestigious graduation events for over 300 guests.
Based in the Northern Design Centre in Gateshead, Happen Events specialises in end-to-end event management for corporate and private functions, award ceremonies, conferences, networking, training and team building events.
The entrepreneurial trio are the masterminds behind a major conference on Brexit, which is taking place in Newcastle on 23 March in association with global financial services provider Santander.
Aimed at the North East business community, the event is called ‘BREXIT: For or Against, you must be EXIT ready’, and will look at the impact of Brexit to businesses in the North East, how business can capitalise on Brexit opportunities and how they can best prepare for withdrawal from the European Union.
Josh Ellwood, managing director at Happen Events, explains: “Our idea for the Brexit conference stemmed from the number of SME and start-up businesses we have met through the EBM programme. It was clear there was a real need to help people in business who feel unprepared.
“This has influenced and shaped the content of the conference. It’s nothing to do with being for or against leaving the EU, it’s about helping North East businesses to be Brexit ready. We are delighted to have secured such high calibre speakers. This is an event not to be missed. Our aim is to provide expert advice and insight to local businesses on the national and international opportunities available to them.”
High profile guest speakers at the conference include James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, John Carroll, head of international business at Santander Corporate & Commercial Bank speaking about exporting opportunities for North East SMEs, Ben Gutteridge, head of fund research at Brewin Dolphin, discussing emerging markets outside of the UK and Ben Martin, founder of the Brexit Tracker Tool.
They will be joined by an expert panel representing North East business, which includes Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central, James McDonagh, director EMEA at Frank Recruitment Group, Neil Warwick, head of EU and competition at Square One Law and Lucy Winskell OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Employability & Partnerships) at Northumbria University.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “Whilst the details of any Brexit deal are not known, it is very hard for businesses to plan for their future. It is clear, however, that almost all businesses will be impacted in some way.
“Any guidance for businesses is welcome as they do need to consider their options and be prepared to act swiftly once the outcome of current negotiations is known. I congratulate Happen Events for working to help other businesses to be better prepared.”
Lucy Winskell OBE added: “This is a bold and enterprising initiative by our students and I applaud them for their entrepreneurial flair and drive. They have put together a conference of huge significance, and attracted some of the most influential business figures in the region to speak. Northumbria is rated the UK’s top university for graduate start-ups by turnover and Happen Events is typical of this success.”
Happen Events has also teamed-up with North East tech entrepreneur Paul Lancaster from Plan Digital UK to promote the event widely across social media.
The ‘BREXIT: For or Against, you must be EXIT ready’ conference takes place on 23 March between 12:30pm – 4:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Newcastle, Stephenson Quarter, Forth Banks, NE1 3SA. Tickets are available at: https://www.happenevents.co.uk/events/brexit-for-or-against-you-must-be-exit-ready.