Last week, UKTI and other government departments hosted the last of the GREAT Weeks in Milan as part of UK participation in World Expo 2015. GREAT Week Healthcare and Life Sciences attracted a total of 198 attendees and 27 speakers, including UCL, Healthcare UK, Cytox, ReNeuron and Alzheimer’s Research UK. Ministers in attendance included Lord Dunlop, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland and George Freeman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Life Sciences and Lord Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at UCL. Thought leadership included Moorfields Eye Hospital announcing a potential cure for blindness, as well as NHS England sharing their plans to become the most modern digital health service in the world. To see full highlights from the week, see our Storify.
As GREAT Week Healthcare and Life Sciences drew to a close, it got me thinking about the success of the GREAT Weeks series and the journey the brand has been on since its inception. Now two and a half years old, GREAT Weeks have taken place in 4 continents and have been attended by over 1,500 UK companies across multiple sectors, from automotive and architecture to food and fashion. Created by Laura Faulkner and Christine Losecaat, these high profile trade missions and the overall GREAT Week brand is now owned by Stephen McGowan, Head of UKTI’s Events & Missions Team. They have been extremely successful in matching UK export-ready companies to overseas business opportunities.
As well as bridging the gap between UK businesses and demand overseas, each GREAT Week ignites a targeted, in-market campaign to demonstrate what the UK has to offer, with high profile showcases of British heritage, innovation and creativity. For example, it’s not unusual to see entire streets branded GREAT to welcome delegates, catwalk shows from world-renowned British fashion designers or cooking demonstrations from UK Michelin-starred chefs. The GREAT Weeks programme also includes trunk shows, meet the buyer events, thought leadership and one-to-one meetings that regularly conclude in business deals.
With each Week being led by a Government minister, their attendance helps to open doors for UK companies in-market that they wouldn’t necessarily being able to achieve alone, such as solving final legalities and announcing new UK government funding and support. Ministerial attendance also really helps to draw in potential buyers and investors across key markets.
Another advantage of these trade missions is that they are wholly inclusive, with SMEs, MSBs and major corporations all attending and coming together to collaborate and support one another. This reflects in business won for UK companies during the GREAT Weeks, with business wins ranging from £570k for Belvoir Fruit Farms at GREAT Week South Korea and a pipeline of business in the region of £200m for a company that attended GREAT Week Mexico.
Global events and missions are key to helping UK companies grow and export, so please see www.events.ukti.gov.uk for a full list of UKTI’s upcoming events.