HSBC has announced further support to UK business following on from its £4bn International SME fund, with the launch of Global Connections, a global initiative from HSBC focused on highlighting the importance of international business in today’s global economy.

In the UK, the top 10 international and innovative businesses could be awarded a share in £60m worth of funding – up to £6m lending each – linked to a financial reward of up to £120,000 for the 10 finalists and £240,000 for final winner.

The finalists will also be invited to take part in International Exchanges for networking and business development.

Through regular meetings with businesses, I am fortunate enough to see the huge entrepreneurial spirit that exists for business in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. They often talk to me about how international opportunities are critical to the future success of their businesses; however their key question is how to identify and fund them.

Our Global Connections initiative seeks to help UK businesses compete at the forefront of international trade. Not only can we help through providing funding but also through introducing them to other entrepreneurial businesses both in the UK and around the world.

Once you bring businesses together, you can tangibly see partnerships forming as they share challenges, insights, and find synergies to help each other grow. It is a privilege to facilitate these connections and to help local businesses achieve success on a global scale.

At HSBC, we’ve previously taken businesses from across the UK to “Thought Exchange” trips in some of the world’s most dynamic areas of economic growth – Hong Kong, Brazil, New York, United Arab Emirates and Paris - allowing them to meet other businesses and investigate international trade opportunities.

This year, it is linked into a global initiative allowing even more businesses to connect but the competition element will be unique for UK businesses. This is a great opportunity for businesses to learn from other companies involved in international trade and put together a network that offers the chance to expand and grow on the global stage. The funding on offer will also help enterprises build on their success by recognising where to concentrate their energies and which skills they need to develop.

We’re inviting forward thinking, ambitious UK businesses to demonstrate the quality of their thinking and the ability to put that thought into action. We’ll then be selecting a shortlist of 10 finalists, chosen by a panel of judges, and inviting them to attend one of two high profile International Exchanges in either the USA or UAE.

Back in the UK, all of the Global Connections finalists will be given the opportunity to build their business pitch, applying the insights gained on their International Exchange with the overall winner receiving a financial reward of up to £240,000

Businesses will be able to submit an application detailing their business plans and funding requirements online at by closing day Friday, July 13, 2012.