By Daniel Hunter

Unleash your will to win — that is the powerful message from the global entrepreneur community, which is flocking to Liverpool today (Tuesday) for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2012, the world’s pre-eminent gathering of start-up champions.

Amid the most challenging economic downturn in post-war history, the Congress shines a spotlight on business brilliance, highlighting the crucial role of entrepreneurs around the world in spearheading the economic fight-back.

Sir Richard Branson, Sir Terry Leahy, Lord Heseltine and Martha Lane Fox are among the world-class line-up of headline speakers at the Congress, who are backing Liverpool’s mission to become an international hub of entrepreneurship.

Running from 9th—16th March 2012, the Congress also welcomes today themanaging director of Liverpool Football Club, Ian Ayre, founding Dragons’ Den panelist, Doug Richard, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, Paul Lindley and founder of King of Shaves, Will King.

The Congress today kicks off with a special chartered Virgin Train from London Euston to Liverpool, bringing VIP guests to the city to share their knowledge and ideas. They will join over 3,000 delegates who have travelled from all over the world to meet business leaders, policy makers and enterprise champions.

Highlights of the day will include:

· Chartered Virgin Train bringing Sir Richard Branson and VIP guests to Liverpool

· Keynote speeches from Sir Richard Branson and Sir Terry Leahy

· Closing set from award winning stand-up comedian John Bishop

· Panel discussions with some of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs

· Ideaspace Liverpool — a mini-festival of innovative start-up ventures

· The Echo Wheel, powered by Smarta Business Builder — each one of the Wheel’s 42 pods will host mentoring sessions between aspiring and successful entrepreneurs

Hosted by Liverpool Vision, the city’s economic development company, the Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship and Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress has this week come to Europe for the first time.

It will be streamed live online, from the Congress’s website and from Liverpool Vision’s website, encouraging viewers across the globe to unleash their entrepreneurial spirit. The Congress's summit will be available online for six months after the event.

“The Global Entrepreneurship Congress is a landmark international event that will today celebrate the passion and innovation of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world. It forms a key part of our ambition to inspire and celebrate entrepreneurship in Liverpool and to create a meaningful legacy for the city," Max Steinberg, CEO of Liverpool Vision, said.

“It is important that GEC 2012 reaches more than the 2,800 people booked to attend. This is not an exclusive event, it is for anyone with an ambition, talent or an idea. Live streaming ensures that this event and its message is accessible to all people and shows the world that Liverpool is capable of hosting major events like this.”

Jonathan Ortmans, chairman of the GEC and president of Global Entrepreneurship Week, said: “In today’s tough economic climate, entrepreneurs have never been more important in creating jobs and driving economic growth. The Global Entrepreneurship Congress will today provide insights into how to inspire more of us to unleash our winning spirit now — just when our nations need it most.”

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