Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is to advise the government on how to respond to the challenges of globalisation so it can compete with the fast-growing economies of China and India.
Gates has been appointed to a panel of 12 of the world's leading business people on a new International Business Advisory Council that will advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry over the next three years.
Other high-tech names on the Council include Meg Whitman, president and chief executive of eBay; Ratan Tata, chairman of India's Tata Group; and Sir Ka-shing Li, chairman of the board at Hutchison Whampoa, which owns mobile operator 3.
They will sit alongside more traditional industrial leaders such as Sir Terry Leahy, chief executive of Tesco; Lee Scott, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart; and Lord Browne, group chief executive of BP.
The Council will meet once per year. The first meeting will be held later this year at Gordon Brown's current residence, 11 Downing Street.
Brown said in a statement: "There is no more important question for advanced industrial countries today than how to rise to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation.
"The Council will advise on how we can do more to rise to the challenges we face and ensure that the UK remains one of the world's key locations of choice for high value-added activity, working together to pursue a less protectionist world."
The Council's remit is to discuss policies to improve UK competitiveness, including specific issues relating to the globalisation challenge.