Titans of industry to lead UK's Global Investment Summit

Bill Gates joins 200 global A-listers at London's Science Museum as Britain looks to boost green ambitions with overseas capital

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a live Q&A with Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates at the Global Investment Summit in London on Tuesday, as the UK looks to boost foreign investment for green industries of the future.

The one-day event at London's Science Museum aims to catalyse billions of pounds of overseas cash for Britain's green economy as the government increases its net zero ambitions before the Cop26 summit in Glasgow from the end of October.

Two hundred global business leaders and investment A-listers will converge at the summit, which will see Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver a keynote address to showcase "the very best of the UK’s clean technologies and innovative companies”, as well as engaging in a live chat with Mr Gates.

Separately, Mr Johnson was due to host 20 business leaders for a private dinner at No 10 Downing Street on Monday, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will meet 300 financiers in the city.

Jellied eels will be served by Clare Smyth, the first woman chef in the UK to get three Michelin stars, who has been tasked with delivering a menu “showcasing the best of British produce”.

Canapes of jellied eels, chicken liver parfait, and pumpkin and white truffle gougere will be served before a starter of potato and roe. Venison from the Rhug Estate near Corwen in Denbighshire, prepared with a 16-year-old Lagavulin whisky, will be followed by a dessert of lemon and pear meringue.

Queen Elizabeth will then host a reception at Windsor Castle.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent will be in attendance.

The government hopes the five-star treatment will encourage the world’s biggest financiers, such as JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon and Blackstone boss Stephen Schwarzman to back Britain's green ambitions.

The GIS aims to drive forward the government’s 10-point plan for a greener economy, first unveiled by Mr Johnson in November last year with a pledge to invest £12 billion ($16.47bn) in the transition away from fossil fuels.

The summit will demonstrate how the £12bn is creating and supporting UK jobs and make the case for global investment in Britain’s green economy.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the UK is “using investment to cement itself as a science and tech superpower, and a pioneer of green technology ahead of Cop26”.

The summit wants to build on the UK Office for Investment, which has already secured the Partnership for the Future agreement with the UAE, with billions of pounds committed for Britain’s technology, infrastructure and energy transition as well as joint pledges on climate action.

Under the UAE-UK Sovereign Investment Partnership, Mubadala Investment Company committed £9bn to the sectors, in addition to Mubadala’s £800 million investment and the British government’s £200m to the UK life sciences sector when the partnership was established in March.

Last week, Mr Johnson gathered his Cabinet for a meeting away from Downing Street in the south-west of England as he sought to portray the UK as a beacon for green investment and at the forefront of a green industrial revolution.

Since November 2020, when Mr Johnson first set out his 10-point plan for a greener economy, £5.8bn of investment has either been landed by the UK or committed for green sectors, with the investments creating or securing 56,000 jobs.

This goes some way towards Mr Johnson’s ambition to support 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK and unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030, when sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned.

Green investment seen so far includes more than £650m in advancing offshore wind this year alone, creating 3,600 jobs across the Humber and North-East and more than £900m in accelerating the shift to zero-emissions vehicles.

Examples include a £400m battery gigafactory, part of a £1bn project between Envision AESC, the battery division of green tech company Envision Group, Nissan and Sunderland Council to create a flagship electric vehicle hub in the north-east.

On Monday, car maker Ford said it will invest up to £230m to produce components for electric cars at its existing plant in Merseyside, England, after the British government pledged financial support to accelerate automotive electrification.

The Halewood factory near Liverpool will be repurposed to build electric power units from mid-2024 that will gradually replace the manufacturing of combustion engines.

Before the UN Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow, the government is expected publish its long-awaited net zero strategy, setting out how it will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

As well as Mr Johnson, speakers at GIS will include Dr Ngozi Okonjo, the director general of the World Trade Organisation, as well as Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, Sarah Gilbert, and GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Dame Emma Walmsley.

About 87 per cent of attendees at GIS come from outside the UK, according to the Department of International Trade, including 32 per cent from the US which hints at Mr Johnson’s plan to align the UK more closely with North America.

Levelling up and attracting greener and more sustainable investment will also be on the agenda, which will see the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and NatWest Group chief executive Alison Rose taking part in discussions about the opportunities for greener investment up and down the country.

The UK’s expertise in generating tech unicorns will also be discussed in a conversation with Poppy Gustafsson, chief executive of British cybersecurity company Darktrace, which floated in April.

Updated: October 19th 2021, 10:13 AM
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