DTI initiative will teach urban renewal skills to British embassy staff in order to promote UK firms abroad
Staff working in British embassies are to be given training by urban renewal experts so that they can promote the participation of British firms in overseas regeneration projects.

The plan will involve 18 UK trade and investment officers from embassies in eastern Europe, Russia and the Far East. They are to spend two weeks at the end of September touring regeneration sites across Britain and attending a course of lectures.

The move is part of a general strategy announced last week by UK Trade & Investment, the international arm of the DTI.

The scheme, which is called "Regeneration UK", is aimed at getting British regeneration personnel into countries undergoing economic change in eastern Europe and the Far East.

The initiative has been launched by Nigel Griffiths, the construction minister. He said: "This is a great opportunity for UK companies to increase their participation in overseas regeneration projects. I don't take a soft touch on this: it's not all about us wanting to help you. I say to those countries: you help us with a good business plan."

Staff will be expected to go back to their posts with an understanding of how UK towns have tackled their problems, as well as identifying similar problems in their countries so that they can promote UK regeneration skills.

I’m not a soft touch on this. It’s not about us wanting to help these countries

Nigel Griffiths

Robert Hudson, an export promoter at UKTI, said that the programme was about increasing awareness.

He said: "In some countries they won't even know that some problems, such as urban crime, can be solved by regeneration. We've got to get our embassy staff to realise that urban crime slots into wider regeneration issues."

The programme was aided by an industry advisory group of contractors, planners and architects, including Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

Following vetting procedures, an approved list of UK firms abroad will be held at the national embassy. The government's plan to set up an online directory of UK regeneration practitioners interested in working overseas.