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BCP Evolve Business Festival informs and inspires

alastair humphreys on stage

Eight days, ten events and more than three hundred guests—the BCP Evolve Business Festival brought together industry leaders and entrepreneurs to inform and inspire, as well as create important discussions around the current and future state of business in the South.

Funded by BCP Council’s Bounce Back Fund and sponsored by business and tax advisers, Inspire, the free-to-attend festival was designed to help business owners and leaders recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Things kicked off on the evening of November 17, with British adventurer Alastair Humphreys telling his story to a fascinated audience at Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth. He detailed how, after years of incredible feats—such as cycling around the world and rowing the Atlantic—he realised that adventure was really “just an attitude”, and this led him to create the ‘microadventure’—simple and easily-accessible adventures that anyone one of us can do from our doorstep.

The following evening saw five entrepreneurs talk to students at Bournemouth University about the journeys that led them to start their own businesses. Each panellist detailed their upbringing, their school days and their first experience of work, and revealed how all of these—to some degree or another—influenced their decision to go out and seek their own destinies. The talk was followed by a highly-engaging Q&A session from our business leaders of the future!

warren munson and guests
Warren Munson and panellists at the Inspiring the Next Generation evening at Bournemouth University.

Friday, November 19 saw a packed day, with two Development Round Table Breakfasts and a Going Green event at Green House Hotel in Bournemouth. The Round Table Breakfasts—held at Captain’s Club in Christchurch and Evolve’s office in Poole—saw guests discuss their good, bad and mad and work through an Evolve ‘Strategies for Growth’ workbook (Christchurch group) or ‘Change Management’ (Poole group). Each group then finished off by stating their goals and plans for the four weeks.

The Going Green event brought together five business leaders to discuss easy and better ways to ‘go green’, not just in your business but in your personal life as well. This, again, was followed by an enthusiastic and insightful Q&A with the audience.

On Monday, November 22, life coach and stress expert Becki Houlston presented a webinar entitled ‘Building Resilience in Uncertain Times’, in which she spoke about the effects the pandemic has had on our mental health and provided useful coping strategies to better manage anxiety.

The following day saw the festival’s first interaction with the BCP Council, who generously funded the business festival as part of their ongoing support and commitment to local business. Held at the grand Council Chambers in Poole, the morning saw Cllr Drew Mellor and Cllr Philip Broadhead—leader and deputy leader of the BCP Council respectively—discuss the current state of business within the BCP area, and outline their plans for future support and growth in the coming years. Once again, a highly engaging and important Q&A session followed, in which business owners expressed their views, concerns and hopes for business and the general upliftment of the BCP area.

philip broadhead
Deputy leader of the BCP Council, Cllr Philip Broadhead, at the Future of the BCP event.

Later that afternoon, nutritionist Barbara Cox presented her ‘Dynamic’ programme to an intimate gathering at Club Hub in Poole. With her usual energy and humour, Barbara outlined seven simple habits we can all adopt to have more energy and achieve better physical and mental wellbeing. She also listed her nine favourite superfoods.

Thursday, November 25, saw another webinar, this time with meditation practitioner Kate Hughes. She gave a 45-minute meditation and breathwork session that left everyone feeling very calm and relaxed (perhaps too much so!). Kate also gave some useful tips on how to practice meditation on your own—a great habit for anyone.

The festival concluded on Friday, November 26, with the BCP Symposium. Held at the impressive Vitality Stadium—home of AFC Bournemouth—the morning brought together a large number of business leaders from a variety of sectors to discuss the current state of play within the BCP area, and how, as a collective, business and economic growth can progress and flourish. Guests were separated into their respective sectors to have a one hour discussion with their sector hosts, who then presented their findings. Deputy leader of the BCP Council, Cllr Philip Broadhead, was there once again to listen to the groups and provide feedback.

The results of this symposium will soon be published in a white paper on Evolve.

warren munson
Warren Munson at the BCP Symposium at Vitality Stadium.

“I’m a great believer that if you put like-minded people together, great things happen,” said Warren Munson, founder of Evolve. “That’s what this festival is all about. We’ve had some great events across a broad range of topics and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the engagement each has created. From adventure and business, to personal growth, wellbeing and inspiring the next generation—there’s been something there for everyone and the whole event has surpassed my expectations. A big thank you to BCP Council for their generous support, as well as giving their time and invaluable feedback at a couple of our events.”