Exporting out of recession: Government Response to the Committee's Third Report of Session 2009-10 - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Annex A: The Business Ambassador Network - March Update

When Sir Andrew Cahn last wrote out to you at the end of 2009 to thank you for your efforts as a Business Ambassador, I also provided you with a summary of the work of the network over the last year. I'm writing to you now to update you on a number of the activities I referred to in that report and to give you an idea of how our programme for 2010 is progressing.

The Network Gets Wider

In December 2009 and February 2010 the Prime Minister announced that he had asked another seven business and academic leaders to become Business Ambassadors—bringing the number in the network to 25. The decision to add to the group was made for two main reasons: to be able to increase the overall number of engagements that the Business Ambassadors are able to undertake; and to widen the specialist sector coverage we are able to offer. This also reflects the recently published findings of Parliament's Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BISCOM) report on 'Exporting out of recession'. The report said:

"We agree that the British Trade Ambassadors are doing a very good job selling Britain as a place to trade with and invest in. Having high powered individuals singing the praises of the country can only benefit UK plc. We ask the Government to provide us with yearly up-dates on the activities of each of the Ambassadors, and to inform us what steps it is taking to ensure that the specialist knowledge the network possesses reflects all those industries which are of central importance to the UK's economic future."

This is a tremendous endorsement of the Business Ambassadors initiative, particularly as the 'singing the praises of the country' referred to by the BISCOM took place at the height of the global financial recession—a challenging and complex time for anyone involved in promoting trade and inward investment. During this period the Business Ambassadors played an important role in helping to restore confidence in UK business by getting positive trade and investment messages out to the front line and to potential customers and investors around the world.

Of course there is a lot more that still needs to be done. The point made by the Committee on the need to ensure that the network reflected all of those industries of central importance to the UK's economic future was also one of the drivers behind the appointment of the seven new Business Ambassadors. The new members are:

Chris Brinsmead - Chairman, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals UK

Lord Ara Darzi - Professor of Surgery, Imperial College London

Larry Hirst - Chairman, IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa

Lady Barbara Judge - Chairman, UK Atomic Energy Authority

Professor Julia King - Vice-Chancellor, Aston University

Samir Brikho - CEO, AMEC plc

Sir John Sorrell - Chairman, London Design Festival, Co-Chair, The Sorrell Foundation

Many of these names are already well known to UKTI and we are looking forward to working closely with them in their new role as Business Ambassadors. As a result of these appointments our sector coverage in the Creative, Health, Pharmaceutical, Energy, ICT and Manufacturing areas will significantly increase. A complete list of the current members of the Business Ambassador Network is attached at Annex A.

The End of 2009

Further to my last update, the Business Ambassadors finished off 2009 with a number of top class events. Building on the really successful programme of work that was summarised in my November report there were additional contributions in November and December, including: Lord Rogers in Australia and South Korea; Paul Skinner in Trinidad; Lord Browne in Finland; Sir Roger Bone in London; and Digby, Lord Jones in the USA.

The trip that Lord Jones made to the USA is worth highlighting as it consisted of three cities in three days, nine speeches and many additional meetings. The trip promoted the UK's focus on innovation and the generation of foreign direct investment by encouraging US stakeholders to tap into the UK's innovation networks. At every stage of the programme Lord Jones gave out positive messages about the UK innovation agenda - with tremendous responses from all of his audiences. Our Posts in the USA are following up a number of leads and ideas that can be directly linked to the Business Ambassador work undertaken by Lord Jones.

We were also pleased to organise a Business Ambassador dinner at Chevening House, on behalf of Lord Mervyn Davies, where we were able to bring together a number of the Business Ambassadors to discuss the network and wider business issues. Finally, in December, a group of Business Ambassadors took part in the first UKTI Business Advisory Group meeting in the Locarno Suite at the FCO - the culmination of a very successful year for the Business Ambassadors.

The Programme for 2010

The Secretariat team within UKTI has been working hard to build a full Business Ambassador programme to take us through 2010 and we are already well underway, with a number of very good events confirmed or completed.

Events that have taken place in January and February 2010 have included: Lord Darzi delivering keynote speeches at the 'Arab Health' Conference in Dubai; Sir Kevin Smith leading a UK Aerospace delegation at the Singapore Airshow; Sir Roger Bone speaking at the London Chamber of Commerce; Sir Victor Blank undertaking a number of engagements at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and later in the USA; and Marcus Agius met with HMA Edward Oakden and senior business figures in Abu Dhabi. In addition, a number of the Business Ambassadors attended the Prime Minister's Global Investment Conference in London.

Business Ambassador events coming up during March include: Professor Julia King delivering key-note addresses at a Low Carbon Capabilities Conference in London and at a Low Carbon Vehicles event in Newcastle; Digby, Lord Jones facilitating at a UK/South African Business Forum in London for SA President Jacob Zuma and later visiting Australia as part of a Western Australia initiative; Sir Roger Bone attending the Nordic/UK Business Awards in London; Lady Barbara Judge undertaking engagements in Kazakhstan, China and Jordan; Sir John Sorrell delivering a key-note address in Barcelona; and Paul Skinner speaking at the Construction Equipment Association AGM Conference in London.

Further into the future, we are currently planning events in a number of markets, including: Australia; China; Russia; India; and the USA. A copy of our current programme is attached and this includes details of all the work the Business Ambassadors undertook in 2009, as well as events we have already completed or are planning in 2010. The programme is ongoing and will develop further over the coming months.


In all our activities we ensure that the Business Ambassadors programme directly supports UKTI's strategic business and trade priorities. By working closely with our sector, market and regional experts we have a good picture of where we need to target our resources in order to achieve this.

In addition to these major conferences, exhibitions or trade shows, the programme will also be made up of a series of more 'reactive' events. These will be added to the programme as we work with our overseas and UK networks to make the most of every Business Ambassador opportunity that becomes available to us. Although it is just not possible to support every proposal we get (either because we don't have the resources to do so, or it is not in a priority market/sector or just because there isn't a suitable Business Ambassador available to do it), on balance we have taken the view that, if an opportunity arises, it is better to try to do something to promote UK expertise, rather than nothing.

In the case of opportunities arising in the margins of the Business Ambassadors own personal or business travel, we rely heavily on our FCO colleagues in UK Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions around the world being able to deliver a suitable trade event. Over the last year a significant number of successful Business Ambassador events took the form of small business dinners or receptions hosted, often at comparatively short notice, in this way. With the right audiences, these sorts of events can be extremely effective and we are keen to continue with this approach.

Getting the right information

We will also continue to update you with the current trade and economic messaging. In addition to this generic information the Secretariat has been providing detailed briefing and speeches for many Business Ambassador events and we will continue to do so. Although we think we mostly get it right, any feedback about the quality or timing of briefing would be appreciated, particularly as everyone has different preferences and working styles. The key thing we always need to do is to ensure you are absolutely clear about why you are at a function and what your involvement is meant to achieve.

We also welcome your reports back of the events you have attended. These do not have to be long, but your general summing up whether you felt the event went well, if the organisation/briefing was right and any follow-up actions or general thoughts, would be extremely helpful in evaluating the value of the event.


If we haven't yet got around to talking to you or your advisors about potential Business Ambassador activities in 2010, please get in touch and I (or a member of my team) will be more than happy to come and discuss ideas with you.

Once again, many thanks for your efforts to date, a warm welcome to the new Business Ambassadors and I look forward to working with you all throughout 2010.

Jack Charteris
Head of Business Ambassador Secretariat

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