Supporting entrepreneurship

04 June 2010

Last week I was focused on my business launch plan amidst the mountain of campaign leaflets hitting the doormat. This week I’m wading through the column inches on the dire straits of our hung parliament and hoping that we have a new parliament on my return to the UK.

One article that caught my eye was an article by Nick Hasell in The Times on May 8th on the staggering fact that business investment in the UK has fallen 20% year on year according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the biggest contraction on record. However London quoted companies are sitting on a mountain of £140billion in cash which is at its highest level for more than a decade. Given the need to stimulate the UK economy here’s an idea – why don’t some of these quoted companies start developing incubators or funds where keen entrepreneurs can compete for their business which could potentially become the rising stars in these company’s business portfolio in future years.

Large companies always lament the fact that they struggle with innovation as they’re too big and it takes too long to make decisions. I know a number of keen entrepreneurs looking for investment in their business and the VC route always means they end up spending a lot just to get the paperwork completed whereas the large companies already have many of the skills sitting within their executive teams and the combination of entrepreneurial talent and the company “know how” sitting on their boards seems like a potential recipe for success. This idea also gives these experienced directors a taste of how tough it is to be an entrepreneur in the UK.

I’ve just been invited to join the advisory board of a technology start up and the guys I’m working with said how hard it has been to find the right experienced people for their board. So here is a message to all those FTSE Board Directors sitting on that cash mountain – how about supporting some new enterprise? If you can’t get your shareholders to agree to an incubator then why not set up a new enterprise fund with other fellow quoted companies in your sector to generate more of an Enterprise Britain culture.

We need to show our young people that entrepreneurship can be a career path and give them some support to be the quoted companies of tomorrow.. Let’s face it, it’s not sustainable to have so many cities such as Newcastle and Liverpool with 1 in 3 jobs are in the public sector when we have to make so many public sector cuts to manage the national debt. We are going to be one sick country if we create such dependency on the public sector. Your comments and thoughts as always eagerly invited.
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