Investors urged to back region at summit

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Global bankers and business leaders are this week being urged to invest in the region's firms at a major summit being held in the heart of Europe.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Global bankers and business leaders are this week being urged to invest in the region's firms at a major summit being in the heart of Europe.

More than 3,000 investors and government organ-isations are taking part in the European Open Days in Brussels over the next four days.

Bosses from the East of England Development Agency and the Regional Assembly are supporting the move and see the sessions as a chance to promote the region's achievements in the offshore wind industry - with a presentation from Norwich-based Renewables East forming the centrepiece of their lobbying effort.

Delegates are set to meet with officials from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to discuss how EIB loans could help promote investment in the East of England.

One of the goals is to persuade major European firms to back green business ideas being researched and developed by East Anglian firms.

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Key to this is a new "investor's café," which aims to bring together firms with potential investment partners in the hope of kick-starting new business opportunities.

Steve Clarke, from Renewables East, said the event was a vital chance to build new partnerships.

He said firms heading to Brussels to take part include Lowestoft-based SLP, which is leading a charge into developing offshore wind turbine technology.

"Handshakes are going to be made," he said. "We are going to highlight our region as a very green and sustainable region," he said. "It's about putting in place a network to help combat global climate change."

Kathy Pollard, from the regional assembly's European and International Affairs Panel, said: "The European Open Days provide a great opportunity for the East of England to promote itself to the rest of Europe and for businesses to learn about new investment and market opportunities."

Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, will launch the event today.

John Monks, Secretary-General of the European Trade Union Confederation, will also be taking part in a discussion focused on how to make Europe's regions and cities more attractive.

The Open Days are one of the biggest events on the European business calendar with more than 130 cities across the continent taking part. There will be more than 115 specialist workshops.

For details of the programme log on to www.opendays.europa.eu