By Claire West

Britain can accelerate to the economic fast lane — that’s the message from ACCELERATE 2013, the UK’s leading festival for high-potential businesses that will gather 2,000 people today in Liverpool.

At the heart of the festival sits the ACCELERATE 250, a new group of the UK’s most exciting fast-growth businesses, that has been championed by Lord Young and Sir Terry Leahy and that is meeting for the first time today.

ACCELERATE 2013 kicks off with a high-speed train bringing VIP guests, headline speakers and festival sponsors from London to Liverpool for a day of high-octane debates, inspirational speaker sessions and brilliant business opportunities.

They are joined by a world-class line-up of speakers from business and beyond, which includes Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, Martha Lane Fox, Co-founder of lastminute.com, Lord Young, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Adviser, General Sir Michael Jackson, former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Bilimoria, Chairman of Cobra Beer, Ed Wray, Founder of Betfair, Sean Fitzpatrick, former All Blacks Captain, Thea Green, Founder of Nails Inc, Doug Richard, Founder of School for Startups and Charles Morgan, Chairman of Morgan Motor Company.

Expert speakers will provide a unique boot-camp for business, offering insight into sessions, including:

? Think Smarter: The mindset of a successful business
? Get Stronger: The economics of business
? Connect Wider: Building your network in the 21st Century
? Grow Faster: Lessons for growth

Max Steinberg, Chief Executive of Liverpool Vision, says:
“We are delighted to welcome 2,000 business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs to Liverpool today for ACCELERATE 2013. The City has become an internationally recognised hub for trade and industry and we are proud to be hosting the UK’s first flagship festival for fast-growth businesses. Today we are showing the world that Britain is in business.”

Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, says:
“Great job Liverpool for hosting a festival with such a clear focus on high-growth businesses. These are the businesses that are transforming communities and countries all over the world with their ambition and performance — and it is imperative that we lend them the continued inspiration and support they need.

"We built Wikipedia on the principles of collaboration and the free exchange of knowledge. ACCELERATE 2013 embodies the best of this collaboration — and the transformative power of the knowledge it can bring. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

ACCELERATE 2013 is a stepping stone to the International Festival for Business 2014, a 61-day expo of world-class events taking place in the Liverpool city region in June and July 2014. The International Festival for Business 2014 will bring £100 million of inward investment to the UK and 250,000 visitors to Liverpool.