By Marcus Leach

The launch of Catalyst UK, a new global network of business leaders, has further boosted the UK’s reputation as a prime location for business.

Catalyst UK comprises international business figures established in international markets, who are supporters of the UK as a location to do business, and will champion the UK as the world’s best international business partner.

The initial scheme, to be launched by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), will include 100 high profile members, with a view to increase the network to 500 members within two years.

Members will promote the UK internationally by speaking at UKTI events, as well as discussing their insights and views with businesses. Further to that they will provide practical support and mentoring to UK SMEs and entrepreneurs taking their first steps in international markets.

With members drawn from all business sectors the network will be sure to benefit businesses throughout the UK.

Lara Morgan, entrepreneurial CEO and part owner of Pacific Direct; Bill Muirhead, founding director of M&C Saatchi; Eric Van Der Kleij, founder of Adeptra and entrepreneur-in-residence at UKTI; dotcom guru Brent Hoberman; and digital media entrepreneur Shekhar Kapur, are a few of those committed to the scheme.

“I am delighted that this network has attracted such an impressive line-up of business leaders,” Lord Green, Minister for Trade and Investment said.

“British firms will benefit greatly from access to these individuals, who can bring a wealth of experience and international business nous to the table.

“Catalyst UK will speak up for Britain, providing a credible voice across a diverse set of markets and sectors. The network will help showcase the best of what Britain has to offer; helping to attract foreign investment and encourage more UK companies to grow internationally.”

The Catalyst UK network will complement the work of UKTI’s Business Ambassadors Network, which was established in 2008 to promote the UK’s excellence internationally but from a British base.

The Business Ambassadors Network, which comprises leading names such as Lord Darzi, Lord Digby Jones, Tamara Mellon and Dick Olver, has already provided an impressive impetus to the UK’s trade and investment activities. Since its creation, it has encouraged UK companies to explore overseas business opportunities through more than 100 events in more than 30 countries and has been influential in securing inward investment projects.

“There is a strong correlation between trade and investment and the growth of the economy,” said Lara Young of Pacific Direct.

“Exporting firms contribute 60 per cent of UK productivity growth and they benefit from access to international markets, become more efficient and attract higher skilled employees.

“As a member of Catalyst UK, I look forward to working closely with SMEs from all disciplines that want to take that leap into the international business arena.”