'Innovation Was GREAT At The Hungarian Grand Prix', By Jonathan Knott, British Ambassador To Hungary

  • 6 Aug 2013 10:00 AM
'Innovation Was GREAT At The Hungarian Grand Prix', By Jonathan Knott, British Ambassador To Hungary
Formula One is the most internationally watched sport. But it is a peculiarly British sport. Though it may not seem like it, 8 of the 12 F1 teams are based within 100 miles of each other in England. Britain has produced more champions than any other country and UK-based teams have won well over half the constructors’ championships in its 54 year history. 75% of global motorsport R&D takes place in the UK.

Every part of every F1 car has had input from the UK.

So the Hungarian GP was a fabulous opportunity to promote British technology and British business. And we grabbed it with both hands. Since the Hungarian GP is effectively the Central European GP, we had a brilliant chance to get our message to its 110 M population.

Essentially our message was that Formula One is a strong and powerful symbol of Britain’s unerring quality in advanced engineering, innovation and technology; attributes that can serve the UK’s business relationship with this region so much more than they do today.

Our weekend programme had three main elements:

First, and to launch our efforts, I hosted a reception at my Residence for some of the most influential local and regional business people, and some political figures, to celebrate the Formula One Grand Prix alongside members of the teams.

For me, this was a great opportunity to tell our friends and contacts, old and new, why Formula One is so interesting and how it speaks of the broader qualities of Britain; those of innovation, of technology and of creativity. I was thrilled to have Graeme Lowdon of Marussia speak about how his team were approaching the weekend and effort that goes on behind the scenes to make a Grand Prix such a fantastic event.

At the track itself we based our efforts round a classic and iconic London Routemaster Bus. The bus was hosted a series of webinars for us. Around 100 British companies took part and learned about the opportunities in the automotive, mass transport and energy sectors in Central Europe.

If you’re interested we have recordings of the webinars which you can easily access. And for the rest of the weekend we used the bus as a venue for business meetings and to engage the race going public about Britain. Over the weekend we were lucky enough to have some fantastic visitors in the form of Max Chilton and Marussia team on the Thursday; some of the team from Williams on Friday; and David Coulthard on the Saturday.

All of our visitors, drivers, teams and race going Brits all got behind our message to support the Best of Britain. Maybe you saw us and the bus on Sky Sports or through Reuters.

The third element was away from the track. We put together a fleet of Minis: all branded for our worldwide GREAT campaign and resplendent in red, white and blue. Seven cars toured Budapest: the business areas, the industrial centres outside town, the iconic tourist sites.

The cars turned heads throughout the day and took our message to all those who were staying in town on race weekend. We then placed them outside the most up-market hotels in town where the movers and shakers saw them – and the messages we wanted to get across to them.

It’s tough to estimate the sort of concrete results we’ll get from our GP programme, but we think there’s a good chance that we’ve been able to set up around 100 fresh business opportunities for British companies in Central Europe as a result of the weekend.

A great start, but just a start: we want to build up a sustainable business relationship with Central Europe. And from the UK being in the middle of the business grid in the region, we’d like to see it at the front. And, like Lewis Hamilton, win from pole. The Embassy teams across Central Europe and I are here to help British companies achieve that.

If you’d like to find out more about our plans or get involved, please take a look at our Emerging Europe webpage or drop us a line at emergingeurope@fco.gov.uk. Because we believe business is GREAT!

Source: blogs.gov.uk

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