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BIS Expo comes through lockdowns, letdowns and last-minute changes

By Karolina Skinner
27 July 2021

Lockdowns, letdowns and last-minute changes haven’t stopped Lara Bull (pictured), the business woman behind the event, from forging ahead with her Business Innovation South event on 15 September at the Hilton Hotel at the Ageas Bowl.

She is philosophical about the past 15 months, seeing it as valuable time spent promoting her showcase for established southern-based businesses from within the science, technology, engineering and innovation sectors as well as aligned service providers.

And there have been plenty of positives along the way.

"All the exhibitors I had on board originally have stayed with me and more have signed up – 48 so far. The extra time has given the expo more time to nudge its way onto the radars of larger businesses and influential organisations.

"From the outset, I’ve always said that I wanted it to be more than just an expo and to become a catalyst for business activity and connections. Ironically, the pandemic has made that even more likely," said Bull.

Headline sponsor Colva Tech said: "Technology is more than just a cost, it’s a driver for business growth and efficiency and Lara’s tenacious event provides the perfect platform for us to showcase this. Our speciality is IT support without the jargon so connecting businesses to the tech they need to succeed is our forte."

The first #BIS2019 was warmly received and Bull was encouraged to build on the success with a bigger and better event in 2020. Stand bookings were going well and sponsorship deals were being signed when the pandemic struck and the events industry went into freefall.

"It has been tough, but we have used the time to create three online conferences with wonderful speakers/highly relevant topics and to establish our new Tomorrow's World Business Zone, with many of the south's leading universities represented.

"While many sectors including the events industry, have been hard hit, I am buoyed by the fact so many STEM companies are telling me they have had their best year ever and that #BIS2021 is even more relevant," she said.

A dedicated Expo App has also been designed by Netshell to help all exhibitors and visitors to register, manage their time, book meetings, manage connections/leads, connect, request info and advertise in the safest possible way.

A library of resources and recorded speaker sessions can also be accessed by visitors signing up to the event.

Safety will remain paramount and all the covid safety measures Bull planned when she first rescheduled the expo will stay in place. "I want people to feel comfortable and safe when they come to the expo," she said.

"We will be one of the first large scale business events in the region so ensuring people feel confident to book is key. All surfaces will have been treated with a long lasting covid sanitiser, we have temperature checking, touchless registration, wide walkways, socially distanced coffee/meet points for those looking to meet contacts – quite simply every measure that can be taken to ensure the safety of visitors and exhibitors has been taken."

Counting down to the event in September, Bull said she especially wanted to thank the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and The Business Magazine for their support in maintaining awareness of the event.

And looking ahead, she added: "I’m already being approached by companies interested in becoming sponsors for 2022 and people interested in speaking and taking stands – there is much to look forward to."

About The Business Innovation South Expo

The Business Innovation South Expo vision is to create an affordable, annual expo setting for established companies in the science, technology, engineering (STEM) and business innovation sectors, and their aligned service providers, who serve and support businesses across the region.

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