Brown and Snow board the 'Enterprise Express'

Any train carrying the founders of Virgin Group, easyJet and Yo Sushi! is going to be dubbed the "Enterprise Express" and under that banner the 6.30am train left London yesterday on its way to the CBI's annual conference in the heart of the West Midlands.

Sir Richard Branson and Stelios Haji-Ioannoujoined Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, his American counterpart John Snow and an assortment of corporate stars for a seminar on entrepreneurship in the unlikely setting of a 1960s Birmingham factory.

The train arrived on time - perhaps due to the fact Sir Richard owned it. As one of Mr Brown's officials put it: "I guess this is what they mean by a joint American and British partnership boosting productivity."

While Messrs Brown and Snow were in town to advocate the breaking down of trade barriers - a small irony given the impending trade war over steel - they were keen to sell the special relationship on a smaller scale.

The first stop was Radshape, a company making components for the exclusive Morgan car brand. With 30 blue-collar workers on the sidelines, the finance ministers of two of the world's largest economies swapped views with some of the entrepreneurs. Asked about the role of business in schools, Mr Snow said: "You can't plan your curriculum around the Mozarts - the Mozarts of business are a rare talent."

Many of this country's Mozarts were in the front row of the audience - including the venture capitalist Tom Hunter and George Cox and Isabella Moore, the head of the Institute of Directors and the British Chambers of Commerce respectively.

Sir Richard told them they had to be driven by a passion for their idea rather than just money; Mr Hunter disagreed, saying he had always hankered after a Porsche. The less famous entrepreneurs may have embarrassed Mr Brown by criticising the help they had received from their Business Link office but he took it all in good grace, describing the session as "inspirational" before heading off for a tour of the factory.

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