Former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo is to head up a host of highprofile entrepreneurs at this year's B2B Midlands exhibition for small and mediumsized businesses.
Mr Portillo will be joined by Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo Sushi! and star of BBC television's Dragon's Den, Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox, CoffeeRepublic founder Sahar Hashemi and car manufacturing entrepreneur Charles Morgan - founder of Morgan Motor Company.
B2B Midlands, which will be held at the new Ricoh Arena in Coventry on October 18 and 19, is designed to provide SMEs with access to advice, ideas and inspiration. Exhibitors also have the opportunity to showcase their services to an expected audience of more than 3,000 visitors.
Mr Portillo said: "SMEs are quite simply the powerhouse of the economy. They might not get the same attention as the big plcs reporting multibillion pound profits, but every business started out as a small one and grew.
"By bringing companies together, to meet and to network, B2B Midlands is going to lead these companies to prosper further."
Owners and managers of SMEs will also be able to learn from highly successful entrepreneurs on how best to maximise growth opportunities and realise their business potential through a series of complimentary seminars and workshops. Topics for discussion will include the latest developments in financial management, employment law, HR, marketing and IT.
Exhibitors already signed up for the event include Barclays, British Airways, Manpower UK, Parcelforce Worldwide and Vodafone, alongside a host of smaller, regional organisations.
Organised by Bristol-based marketing and live events company B2B Portfolio, B2B Midlands is part of a series of events being run across the UK during 2005 and 2006.
Nick James, managing director of B2B Portfolio, said: "B2B Midlands will provide both exhibitors and visitors with a forum to network and share ideas with their peers as well as offering all the advice and services that regional businesses need.
"We are delighted to welcome Michael Portillo, Simon Woodroffe and indeed all of our guest speakers to B2B Midlands 2005. By imparting their knowledge and experience, I am sure they will inspire and drive our visitors towards even greater commercial rewards."