Belfast Telegraph

2012 Business Year Planner

Business Telegraph's Clare Weir looks ahead to the big events Northern Ireland firms won't want to miss

January

Belfast City Hall will host a case study on the role of marketing in retail-led regeneration, organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing and Belfast Chamber of Commerce

As Northern Ireland faces a huge increase in tourist and business visitor numbers in 2012 and beyond, with upcoming events including the opening of Titanic Belfast, the World Police and Fire Games, the Olympic Torch Relay and UK City of Culture, Donna Howitt, marketing director at Liverpool ONE, will describe the marketing strategy and challenges faced in its implementation during Capital of Culture year in Liverpool.

The event takes place on January 25 from 7pm.

On the global scene, the World Economic Forum is taking place in Switzerland from January 25-29.

February

The CO3 leadership awards, which reward innovation in third sector firms and organisations, will take place at the Northern Ireland Science Park on February 8.

This month will also see the live final of 'The Pitch', a student boardroom challenge, organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing in association with Northern Bank.

Each team will present their boardroom pitch, based on a real-life business scenario, to a panel of marketing experts at the UTV studios on February 27.

On February 28, the institute will invite Gerry Copeland, events manager at Belfast City Council, to reveal how Belfast fought off some of Europe's biggest capital cities to claim not only the MTV European Music Awards 2011, but also the return of MTV to the Titanic slipway in spring 2012. The CBI Northern Ireland Energy Conference will take place on February 29.

March

Chancellor George Osborne will outline the next Budget on March 21.

His third Budget statement will fall on the final Wednesday before Parliament's Easter break and is likely be amid the toughest economic circumstances since the coalition took power.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast two successive quarters of negative growth for the UK between October this year and the end of March 2012.

Meanwhile, the Best of Britain & Ireland exhibition will take place on March 14 and 15 at the NEC in Birmingham, Invest NI will host a trade mission to the Baltics, encompassing Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania from March 18-25, and the 2012 Northern Ireland Business of Finance conference takes place at the Europa Hotel in Belfast on the morning of March 29.

April

From the start of this month, an extensive programme of events will celebrate the official public opening of the world's largest Titanic attraction, built beside the slipway where RMS Titanic was built.

The visitors centre features nine galleries, a 1000-seater banqueting suite, restaurant and cafe and an Ocean Exploration Centre. There will also be evening light shows from April 7-11 and the return of MTV with a music concert on the slipway, 'Rock on the Docks', on April 12 and 13.

April will also see, subject to ministerial approval, the introduction of the controversial 'large retail levy', a tax on large stores proposed by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson with which he hopes to fund an extension to the small business rates relief scheme.

And April 24 will see the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards recognise and celebrate the success of individuals and organisations at the Ramada Hotel.

May

May traditionally sees an influx of flat caps, welly boots and cheque books to south Belfast for Balmoral Show time.

With ever-increasing numbers of visitors every year, the event, supported by Ulster Bank, is Ireland's largest agricultural and food show and a real industry showcase for sectors from machinery to agri-food. The 144th show will feature hundreds of trade stands selling everything from organic food, holidays and leisure products to agri machinery, equipment and 4x4 vehicles and despite years of rumours of relocation, is scheduled to take place from May 16-18 at the traditional venue of King's Hall. Meanwhile the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition takes place from May 14-16 in Geneva, Switzerland, with a number of Northern Ireland supply chain firms expected to attend.

May 31 also sees Business in the Community's annual awards dinner at Titanic Belfast.

June

All eyes in June 2012 will be watching for a decision on whether the Treasury will hand Northern Ireland control of its corporation tax rate.

A decision on the issue is due to be made in summer 2012, after a ministerial working group produces its final report on the issue. The results of a public consultation into the plans revealed that three-quarters of the 700 responses to the consultation were in favour of a tax cut, although support was "not universal". Supporters say that a reduction would create more competition with the Republic - which has a rate of 12.5% - and attract more foreign direct investment. Opponents, including trade unions, are concerned about the impact of a cut in the block grant, and are worried that big businesses will not reinvest extra profits. The Economic Advisory Group said it believed the economy here would grow by 13.8% by 2030 if the rate is lowered.

July

Northern Ireland companies have won £40m worth of business through the London 2012 Olympics, taking place in June, with 43 local firms securing contracts.

HJ Martin in Belfast will work within the international broadcasting centre and Boyd Bedding from Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, will supply wood shavings for the horse events. Logan's Travel of Dunloy and Translink will provide coaches for the Games, Cunningham Covers in Maghera will produce huge tarpaulin covers for the beach volleyball centre.

The McGrath Group of Lisburn, has carried out metal work for the Olympic Stadium and Macrete Concrete of Toomebridge has provided support structures for bridges and roads in the Olympic Park.

Tourism chiefs on both sides of the border are also hoping to invite weekend break holidaymakers as a knock-on benefit. Farnborough International Air Show, which is often the base for lucrative trade deals for Northern Ireland-based companies like Bombardier Aerospace, also takes place this month.

August

The first ever Truckfest Ireland will take place at the Kings Hall, in Belfast, on August 18 and 19.

The Truckfest event, which attracts thousands of competitors and visitors, has been run in Peterborough for the last 30 years.

But, it is relocating as a reward to the many loyal attendees from Northern Ireland and the Republic over three decades.

There will be manufacturers and distributor stands, industry showcases as well as competing trucks.

From August 18-27, over 500 competitors and coaches from over 30 countries will be in Northern Ireland to compete for qualifying positions in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

A qualifying event, the Boccia World Cup, will take place at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown.

The university beat off rival bids from countries such as the United States to host the event.

September

This month will see the opening of the £18.5m new Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre.

The project will create a new visitor centre, enhanced walking trails and access and the latest in interpretation services.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Northern Ireland's biggest tourist attractions, attracting hundreds of thousands of sightseers every year.

Fire destroyed the previous visitors centre in the spring of 2000.

Leading the project is Gilbert-Ash, one of Northern Ireland's leading construction firms, supported by firms including McConnell Stone from Kilkeel, Metaltech, Lisburn, Mastercraft, Dungiven, Vaughan's from Newtownabbey and Hynd's Architectural Systems from Belfast.

The building was designed by award-winning Dublin architectural firm heneghan peng.

October

If there is one thing Northern Ireland is good at, it is golf.

The 15th Ireland Golf Tour Operators Association national conference will come back to Northern Ireland, to Lough Erne Golf Resort from October 21-23.

The 2012 Gala Irish Golf Awards ceremony will be held during the event.

Golf tourism is estimated to be worth in the region of £13-£14m per annum to Northern Ireland, which has produced such sporting megastars as Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell.

October 10-11 will see the MEDTEC Ireland conference at the Radisson SAS Hotel in Cork.

Combining an expo with a conference, the event is the Republic's premier trade fair for the multi-million medical device manufacturing industry.

Attendees can purchase capital equipment, order custom components and access the creative know-how of the world's leading suppliers.

November

November sees the climax of the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn awards.

Seedcorn is the largest business competition in Northern Ireland and the Republic for early stage and high growth companies.

The competition, aimed at companies who have a new equity funding requirement, has a prize fund of €280,000 (£233,000).

The grand final will take place in Belfast in the Titanic Quarter, date to be confirmed.

Additionally, Halo, the NI Business Angel Network, which is a joint initiative of Invest NI and InterTradeIreland, are looking for companies who wish to pitch at their investor evening to be held at The Innovation Centre, Northern Ireland Science Park, on November 13.

Northern Ireland's answer to Dragon's Den, the network of over 100 'business angels' have invested over £3m in high growth start-up businesses since 2009.

December

The 38th European International Business Academy annual conference takes place in Brighton from December 7-9, discussing 'International Business and Sustainable Development'.

InterTradeIreland will host a half-day workshop with the aim of helping entrepreneurs understand what it is that venture capitalists really do, at the Grand Canal Hotel Dublin on December 8.

The Middle East Business Aviation show will be held at Dubai's Al Maktoum International Airport December 11-13.

The previous MEBA show in 2010 attracted 6,200 visitors from 77 countries, a 13% increase over the previous show in 2008, and included 156 media professionals representing 76 media outlets from 14 countries.

More than 500 VIPs attended, including members of the region's ruling royal families, plus other key buyers and buying influencers.

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