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Wills to chair strategy group for ICT exports

Michael Wills, the learning and technology minister, is to chair a high-level strategy group aimed at boosting Britain's export of educational information and communications technology.

It will bring together government departments and agencies, educational bodies, trade groups and companies to devise a more cohesive approach to selling software and other products overseas.

The group will create an "effective networking partnership" between government and the industry, Mr Wills hopes. It mirrors the ICT "industry club" set up by the Department for Education and Employment last year to build a closer relationship with the private sector.

The move is intended to help meet the National Grid for Learning target that the UK should be a world leader in the export of learning services by 2002. .

The group's formation has been welcomed by BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, which does much to sell home-grown software to the world.

Britain has a Memorandum of Understanding on educational ICT with Singapore and BESA is organisin a trade mission there next month. Doors have opened for software providers following groundwork by UK software supplier Granada Learning, which resulted in a substantial export contract.

There is a similar agreement with Canada and BESA is working with the British Council to ensure a strong UK presence at the World Education Market in Vancouver in May.

The council recently helped forge links between Industry Canada and the DFEE to work together on ICT in the classroom projects for the National Grid for Learning and European Schoolnet.

Meanwhile, industry leaders will next week be shown how education can be used as a marketing tool to improve international business at a conference hosted by the Education and Training Exports Group, a private sector-led body that reports to both the DFEE and the DTI.

Both departments are key to the Government's drive to ensure Britain develops a knowledge-based economy and remains globally competitive.


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