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In this film image released by Paramount Pictures, a scene is shown from 3-D version of James Camerons romantic epic "Titanic."The Associated Press

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Preliminary deal signed with Chinese shipyard; more than 40,000 already want aboard maiden voyage: reports

A billionaire Australian entrepreneur is behind a project to build a replica of the Titanic, at a Chinese shipyard, according to various reports.

Australian Clive Palmer has signed a preliminary agreement with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build a full-sized working replica of the doomed ship, to be called Titanic II.

Already, more than 40,000 people have expressed interest to Mr. Palmer's shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty., about setting  sail on the new ship's maiden voyage, with some offering to pay upwards of $1-million a seat, according to the reports.

The ship, if and when built, plans to make its maiden voyage in 2016, from Southampton, England, to New York – the same route as its doomed predecessor was taking when  it collided with an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912, killing more than 1,500.

Plans for the replica, to hold 2,400 passengers and 900 crew members, are for it to be just as luxurious as the original, but also have the latest navigation, communications and safety technology aboard, according to the reports. Its design even calls for four smoke stacks as in the original, though they will be decorative, according to the reports.

The project could cost more than $200-million, according to this New York Times report.

The self-made Mr. Palmer built his fortune in real estate, coal, mining and resources, according to various reports, including this one.

The decision to build the ship in China has drawn some skepticism about whether it will actually happen and safety concerns, reports, such as this one in the Wall Street Journal, note. But the ship resonates with the Chinese, many of whom are among those wanting on the maiden voyage, at least partly because of the popularity of the 1997 megahit movie by James Cameron and starting Leonardio DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, reports such as this one note.

Half of entrepreneurs globally planning to boost head count this year: survey

More than half – 54 per cent – of entrepreneurs globally are planning to expand their work force in 2013, according to a survey by Ernst & Young of 600 past and present winners of its entrepreneur of the year awards, including 41 Canadians.

That figure, however, is lower than the 74 per cent who said they planned to grow their head count in 2012.

Among other findings: 88 per cent of respondents said innovation was "the one true differentiator" from their competition – at 90 per cent, slightly higher among Canadians only – and 74 per cent considered innovation a major driver of their growth over the last year.


National Business and Technology Conference

The National Business and Technology Conference will be held on March 8 and March 9 in Toronto. The conference, bringing together young leaders and industry professionals, has been Nspire's annual flagship event since it was started in 2001 by a group of University of Toronto students aiming to merge business and technology. Events include speakers, interactive workshops and entrepreneurship competitions. For more information, click here.

Digital Media Summit

Billing itself as "Canada's social media and interactive marketing conference," the Digital Media Summit takes place in Toronto on March 19 and March 20. With keynote speeches, panels and interactive workshops, the summit will look at a host of areas related to the topic, and bring together a range of interested players. For more information, click here.


Keeping up with constant change online: The 'Harlem Shake' craze lesson

Social media and the Internet make everything happen faster, writes columnist Mia Pearson, offering up strategies for how your business can stay current.


The benefits battle: how a small firm can win

It's a perennial problem for many small and medium-sized businesses: How can they lure talent away from larger firms, with the generous perks they offer? Size can be an advantage to play up, recounted this story, published in February, 2011.

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