26 Jul 2012

Pre-Games business summit is ‘Davos on Thames’

Heads of state from around the world are meeting in London with business leaders including IMF head Christine Lagarde and Google’s Eric Schmidt on the eve of Friday’s Olympics opening ceremony.

A man wearing union flag sunglasses and a bowler hat, stands outside the Houses of Parliament (Getty)

The Global Investment Conference event is a massive networking opportunity for over 3,000 business leaders, politicians and ministers and will launch a programme of events geared towards boosting investment into the UK.

Figures released on Thursday show the number of inward investment projects in Britain has fallen for the third year in a row to 1,406, but the government will be encouraged by the news that 52,741 jobs were created in the process – up 26 per cent on 2010-11.

It will also be buoyed by today’s announcement that the £8bn redevelopment of the iconic Battersea Power Station in London is to begin next summer.

Work at the derelict site on the banks of the Thames is expected to generate 20,000 construction jobs and permanent work for another 13,000 people.

Economic benefit

The government’s UK Trade and Investment department (UKTI) says the potential economic benefit to the UK economy by hosting the Games could reach £13bn – £1bn of this is expected to come from additional sales by British companies taking part in the British Business Embassy showcase programme.

Among the blue chip speakers will be Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, Vittorio Colao, chief executive of Vodafone and Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt.

They will have access to the Governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Royal reception

Outside London over the coming weeks, there will be business seminars with other states such as that between the United Arab Emirates and UKTI North-West, which is being held in Manchester.

Other trade summits taking place during the Olympics and Paralympics as part of the same programme, include two on energy (including contributions from BP and Shell, which promise the attendance of “high-ranking members of the UK government) and one on how the UK has risen to the challenge of delivering the London 2012 Games.

The Lancaster House Olympics curtain-raiser, which will end with delegates heading to Clarence House for an evening reception with the Prince of Wales, is an indication of the huge potential benefits host nations strive to reap from their substantial investment in the Olympics.

The government says the “momentum” created by the Games is a significant opportunity to show the UK as a “thought leader and a creative and innovative nation”.