In May, CommsCo attended (and supported) Scale Up Week 2021, pioneered by The Scale Up Institute, BGF and the UK Government, to listen to thought-provoking discussions on the business-critical issues facing startup and scaleup organisations as they navigate the course towards sustainable success. One of the sessions, titled ‘Making Global Britain a reality: can growing businesses attract worldwide attention?’ and hosted by leading figures from BGF, HSBC, Scottish National Investment Bank, provided some really interesting food for thought.
Encouraging UK entrepreneurs
In the challenging climate in which we find ourselves, the UK scaleup landscape must be more entrepreneurial than ever. With global competition in the space rife as a result of the pandemic, the UK can no longer be an incubator for businesses that will, at some point, likely be tempted by the opportunity to transfer operations abroad in order to grow. With Asia and the US offering established ecosystems for businesses to flourish, it begs the question: how can the UK be the most attractive to scaleup organisations?
Where innovation remains at the very core of the UK’s ongoing success, our competitiveness as a nation does suit agile startups well. We’re talking in terms of research support, funding allocation, and an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem that can boost business development and offer long-term growth for companies that are changing and innovating rapidly. With over 33,000 scaleups in the UK, contributing over £1 trillion to the economy, the UK does hold a real specialism in nurturing digital services scale ups, alongside healthcare and fintech organisations in particular.
What’s certain is that our regulatory systems and institutions are trusted, explicitly in the areas of medical research and financial conduct. The speed of the UK’s vaccine approval and roll out speaks closely to that, and it does also explain why such startups have done well here. If the UK positions itself as a general hub for digital services, where organisations in all sectors can flourish, we’ll likely see a number of entrepreneurial ecosystems across several areas of technology and business be drawn to the UK.
Encouraging UK scaleups, nationwide
The UK must curate the perfect conditions to draw scaleups into the ecosystem, and that includes broadening horizons beyond the London-centric business bubble. Our universities, academic institutions, and business think-tanks that underpin innovation in the UK are based nationwide, and now able to offer extensive support to scaleups regardless of where they are based. Likewise, with the impact of remote working, location is no longer a factor for supporting some of the country’s best entrepreneurial talent.
Learnings from overseas
That said, a stable economic and business environment is vital for success to materialise in any form. Despite the UK leading the charge in overall economic stability following the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, we could look to provide stability in other ways. The Asia region offers the model example with its policy-driven methodology for supporting the evolution of businesses. With frameworks on social development, economic, education and taxation policies, Asia has a thorough support system to nurture scale ups from the word ‘go’. Now is perhaps the time for the UK to follow suit.
Of course, the ScaleUp Institute is doing a phenomenal job in supporting and helping the entire UK scaleup ecosystem and we welcome the first ScaleUp Week as being one part of the many programmes it runs.
If you are thinking of scaling up your business in 2021 and looking for UK-wide or global attention, contact us to see what we could do for you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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