160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – Promoting Britain’s biotech businesses will be at the top of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s agenda when he meets with California’s government and industry leaders over the next few days. It is the first visit to the state by a sitting British prime minister, and Blair’s visit demonstrates how aggressive his country has become in courting investment in its booming high-tech industries. In particular, Blair is keen to promote Britain’s commitment to stem cell research, and will meet with executives from California’s biotech companies on Monday. Blair’s official spokesman said that a conference on stem cell research – between Californian and British researchers – is planned for November in Britain. Britain considers itself a world leader in stem cell research, and the government is providing $186 million for the industry over the next two years. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2California’s massive economy – the world’s seventh largest – is cited as the main reason for the prime minister’s historic trip. Britain exports $5.2 billion worth of products to California, and imports $15 billion in goods from the state, and Blair would like to see those figures balanced. Blair is scheduled to address a meeting today of News International executives, with his speech focusing on Britain’s place in the global economy. Former President Bill Clinton is expected to attend, as is Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister. Rupert Murdoch’s media company is extremely influential in British politics, and the backing of the tabloid newspaper The Sun has been crucial for Blair’s Labour Party. But Blair is also in California to highlight his stance on climate change. He is expected to discuss the need to develop cleaner technology during visits with business leaders and lawmakers, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In Los Angeles, Blair is to attend a round-table discussion with Schwarzenegger, as well as Lord Browne, the chief executive of London-based oil giant BP, and Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group of companies.