SIR Richard Branson has vowed to help budding entrepreneurs "create lots of jobs and lots of great companies" for Britain.
The Virgin magnate was launching the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Liverpool, which aims to be the “largest gathering of enterprise champions” in the world.
Sir Richard arrived in the city waving from the window of the driver’s cab of a specially-chartered Virgin Trains service from London.
Also on board were his daughter Holly, new son-in-law Freddie Andrews and 250 aspiring captains of industry who will take part in the congress.
Sir Richard said: “We’ve come on the entrepreneurship express. There are lots of budding entrepreneurs who will be starting the businesses of the future and it is great to be coming to the congress today, where we’ll be sharing lots of ideas and seeing how we can create lots of jobs and lots of great companies in the future.”
Around 3,500 people are expected to attend the week-long congress, which is hosted by Liverpool Vision, the city’s economic development company, and the Kauffman Foundation, the world’s largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship.
“A vibrant entrepreneurial sector is the backbone of any healthy economy,” Sir Richard said. “We must do all we can to help companies of the future take off – as this will provide both jobs and export opportunities for the UK.
“Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be challenging but the rewards and sense of achievement are something that many young people should aim for.
“They have the drive and determination. It is the role of business and successful entrepreneurs to provide essential support and mentorship to help these young people realise their ambition and potential.
“They are the future job creators and should be given every opportunity to succeed.”
Other business leaders at the Congress include former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, Lastminute.com founder Martha Lane Fox and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine, founder of the Haymarket publishing group. The event takes place at Liverpool’s BT Convention Centre.
Meanwhile, the tycoon’s company Virgin Money, which took over Newcastle-based Northern Rock in a £747m deal at the end of last year, has raised interest rates on its credit cards by almost 50%.