The Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds (BCI) celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Rat with a business networking event on 21 January organised in partnership with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP), Visit Leeds and the China Britain Business Council (CBBC).
In addition to providing a valuable networking opportunity for the 100 people in attendance at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds City Centre, the event saw the return of the Leeds City Region China Business Awards to celebrate the scale and breadth of China-related activity across the city region.
The presence of Roger March OBE (Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership), Councillor Judith Blake (Leader of Leeds City Council) and Zheng Xiyuan (Consul General of The People’s Republic of China in Manchester) demonstrated the high-level support for China-related business activity in the Leeds City Region. All spoke warmly in their opening remarks about the strength of existing relationships and their intentions to see these develop further in the future.
The BCI saw many familiar faces in the crowd, including those who participated in filming our videos and others who are active members of the Visit Leeds China Forum. BCI Executive Director, Dr Giles Blackburne, said:
At the BCI we strongly believe that an understanding of Chinese language and culture is good for business – this is something we have demonstrated in our videos and continue to promote through our work, including our support for the Visit Leeds China Forum. We were delighted to see such a range of local businesses represented at this event and look forward to seeing the progress they have made by this time next year.
The Leeds City Region China Business Awards highlighted the diversity of engagement with China that is happening in the region, with awards presented to the following winners:
- Leeds City Region-China Partnership Award (presented by Mills & Reeve)
- Winner: TPP
- Highly commended: Scotts Fish and Chips
- Exporter of the Year Award (presented by the China-Britain Business Council)
- Winner: A W Hainsworth
- Highly commended: Nine Health Global Ltd
- Chinese Investment Award (presented by the Business Confucius Institute)
- Winner: OSO Polymers
- Highly commended: Dahua
- Tourism, Arts and Culture Award (presented by Market Gravity)
- Winner: Dane Royd Junior and Infant School
- Highly commended: Bradford City of Film
- Significant Contribution to Leeds City Region China Relations (presented by Roger Marsh OBE)
- Winner: Howard Grindrod, Hisense UK
- Highly commended: Will Zhuang, OE Media
Howard Grindrod, winner of the Significant Contribution Award for his work as Vice President of Hisense UK, said that making the decision to locate the company in Leeds is one of the best things they could have done.
Performances throughout the evening added to the Chinese atmosphere created by the red lanterns and knots decorating the venue. The event opened with a calligraphy demonstration from BCI Chinese Instructor Li Yue, who wrote 金鼠迎新，福至利兹 (Jīn shu yíngxīn, fú zhì Lìzī – which can be translated as “The golden rat sees in the new year, bringing good fortune to Leeds”), before welcoming Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan to write his own greeting.
Attendees also enjoyed dancing and singing performances from University of Leeds students, both of whom are members of the University of Leeds Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA). The CSSA has been working with local partners to develop a Student Ambassador programme to promote the Leeds City Region to Chinese visitors.