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What UK Enterprise Voices Now Want
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What UK Enterprise Voices Now Want 


So lengthy, then, to the UK election, and with it, the ceaseless polling predictions of landslides, snug majorities, and even tremendous majorities. For a nation, and for its very important small enterprise and startup sector, the carousel of management modifications which have typified the previous few years has lastly come to a halt, and our new prime minister is settling into his desk at Downing Road with a protracted listing of challenges in entrance of him.

Even when there’s no throwback be aware declaring “I’m afraid there is no such thing as a cash” on the prime of his in-tray, Keir Starmer could have a rogue’s gallery of competing priorities to work by way of. For the SME neighborhood, it’s a knife-edge second ready to see how Labour’s manifesto pledges evolve right into a tangible plan of motion.

Take AI, as an illustration. There’s broad acceptance that some type of top-down regulation is coming – and wanted. However how will Starmer stability this in opposition to creating an encouraging atmosphere of innovation and funding for AI startups? Will a continued pipeline of funding to conventional tutorial heartlands create super-zones of AI progress inside the UK, or will there be a “levelling up” of early stage R&D alternative up and down the nation? Extra importantly nonetheless, will adequate entry to capital, and a deft regulatory contact, imply that the UK has the possibility to really compete globally, and for the long run, in a subject the place the foundations of the sport are seemingly rewritten with each new ChatGPT launch?

Some 58% of enterprise leaders we surveyed advised us {that a} change of presidency can be constructive for his or her enterprise. Now that want has been granted, there’s a broad sense of a generational second within the making, if the correct alternatives are seized upon.

We’ve spoken to consultants throughout a number of fields, to get their tackle what Prime Minister Starmer must give attention to most urgently, now that the election confetti has been swept away, and the actual work begins.

“Assist Gen Z to get wealthy, pursue ardour initiatives and launch their very own companies”

Gen Z workers at laptops

The UK’s urge for food for entrepreneurship is obvious, notably among the many youthful generations. Analysis from Shopify finds 16-24s and 25-34s within the UK are nearly twice as more likely to wish to create their very own firm than the nationwide common.

Era Z are making radical, life-changing selections to get wealthy, pursue ardour initiatives and launch their very own companies. Labour’s manifesto assertion to “pull up the shutters for Britain’s entrepreneurs” could have been a intelligent transfer to win the hearts of the youthful technology – however it’s important that the brand new authorities follows by way of on this.

Addressing the monetary and regulatory obstacles is important to unlocking a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and unearthing the potential of Britain’s 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs to make constructive change.

By offering higher entry to funding, decreasing monetary dangers, and implementing supportive authorities insurance policies, we may help cut back boundaries to entry for potential enterprise homeowners and in doing so drive financial development, innovation and employment for all.

Deann Evans, Managing Director, Shopify, EMEA

“Our immigration system wants pressing consideration if the UK is to draw the most effective expertise”

Our immigration system wants pressing consideration. Hiring and development merely occur elsewhere when tech founders can’t come to the UK to start out a enterprise or herald abroad expertise to fill home ability gaps. The UK has been lucky previously to draw prime founders and tech employees, however the doorways have regularly closed in recent times.

It’s very important that the federal government makes visas for the tech expertise UK startups want extra accessible and doesn’t impose additional restrictions.

On prime of this, there’s been a better than 30% reduce in what UK tech founders can get from R&D tax credit within the final two years. We hear from pissed off founders each day that they need the modifications to their most used innovation help scheme to be reversed.

The results of the cuts has been much less innovation, decrease tech employment and fewer development. There are undoubtedly points that HMRC is working to repair, however this can be a distraction from the persevering with lack of 30% from what reputable UK founders used to get from R&D tax credit.

We should help these founders and persuade the federal government that fraudulent claims from unhealthy actors within the system can’t be a purpose to chop the R&D reduction to corporations set to ship the very best financial returns for the UK.

Sean Kane, Chair and Co-founder of F6S

“Make sure the UK is the most effective place in Europe to be a startup”

The UK is a small market by itself. We have to entice the most effective expertise and drive into worldwide markets for our corporations to realize scale.

We additionally want guarantee they’re correctly funded for fulfillment. The brand new authorities has set formidable targets for long run financial development, however to realize this, it should prioritise funding and help for progressive corporations within the UK. The previous few years have been a tough interval for the UK economic system, and we have now seen rising competitors from expertise hubs world wide and throughout Europe.

The market right here nonetheless retains an edge by way of scale, however it’s one thing that can simply be misplaced except a concerted effort is made to proceed to make sure the UK is the most effective place in Europe to be a startup.

With different international locations closing the hole by way of nicely thought by way of insurance policies to help funding and entrepreneurship, to not point out scaling up, it’s essential for the brand new authorities to point out its help for the UK’s expertise ecosystem to retain its place.

Tim Mills, Managing Accomplice at ACF Traders

“Shift the present AI coverage away from large tech and in direction of AI startups”

Abstract polygonal silver spots on a black-blue background

As AI founders, what we wish to see within the first 100 days of a Labour authorities is an specific acknowledgement of sure, the challenges, but in addition the alternatives latent within the rising AI business.

We’re particularly searching for the Labour authorities to take the most effective elements of present UK AI coverage – which, not like the EU, takes a methodical and cautious strategy, persevering with to construct state capability – whereas shifting the main focus away from solely large tech and flashy, very massive scale fashions. Focusing as a substitute on the AI startups, corporations and fashions that make up the core of, and are constructing a sustainable and worthwhile AI economic system.

Following the Tony Blair Institute’s suggestion of an AI Mission management, I’ve spoken to the physique relating to the suggestion – beforehand quoted in startups.co.uk – to arrange a single authorities entry level for AI startups in search of to remain on the correct facet of authorized and moral points.

That is particularly vital whereas we’re awaiting clear regulatory frameworks, thus supporting the nascent UK AI business from the bottom up, slightly than primarily and solely investing within the AI economic system top-down.

Dr Roeland Decorte, President, AI Founders Affiliation and Founding father of Decorte Future Industries

“The UK ought to goal to turn into a world chief in creating an AI-skilled workforce”

The brand new UK authorities should urgently prioritise AI upskilling, integration, and innovation in each the personal and public sectors. Because the CEO of an AI consulting firm, I see vital worry in non-tech sectors about adopting these options.

It’s essential to bust myths about AI and talk that these are simply new instruments designed to reinforce effectivity and productiveness. The UK ought to goal to turn into the European – and even international – chief in making a extremely expert workforce geared up with AI data.

Contemplate this: right this moment, you wouldn’t rent somebody who solely is aware of the right way to use a typewriter however not Microsoft Phrase, or somebody who makes use of a calculator however not Excel. Equally, we have to train individuals to make use of new AI instruments as a substitute of outdated options.

Empowering our workforce and firms to guide in AI adoption will present that many AI options are cheap, straightforward to make use of, and combine seamlessly. Quite a few extremely efficient AI instruments require no prior technical data but yield unbelievable outcomes.

We should additionally combine training on these new options into faculty and college curricula instantly. That is the one manner the UK can construct a extremely expert workforce able to competing and main on the worldwide stage.

The numbers communicate for themselves: in response to a McKinsey report, organisations that carried out AI options reported income will increase of as much as 20%, and 40% of corporations reported price reductions. These statistics spotlight the substantial financial advantages that AI adoption can deliver, underscoring the urgency for the UK to embrace these advances.

Ieva Balciute, Managing Director, 93Inc

“Labour must companion with progressive startups”

Synthetic intelligence and different deeptech improvements have the potential to speed up the UK’s transition to internet zero.

Nevertheless, it’s irritating to see each the private and non-private sectors pump money into flashy AI functions which can be basically wrappers round ChatGPT-style LLMs.

To justify billions in funding, the hassle of the neatest minds, and the numerous compute energy, the affect of AI must be value it.

Labour must companion with progressive startups and firms which can be researching and creating new methods to create a sustainable future. Efficient engagement with deeptech innovation has the potential to generate a big, near-term affect on sustainability.

Having pledged to spend £100m on AI regulation to make sure large tech doesn’t maintain all the facility, Labour additionally must give attention to offering efficient R&D help and stimulating personal funding into promising corporations on this area with related, actual world functions.

Dominic Vergine, CEO and Founding father of Monumo

“Being pro-worker and pro-business is a superb strapline, however more durable to ship.”

The important thing points that the Labour authorities must prioritise within the first 100 days are AI regulation and financial certainty – however the important thing query is what model of Labour are we going to get? Being pro-worker and pro-business is a superb strapline, however more durable to ship.

They should prioritise offering a simple atmosphere for companies to work throughout borders, each increasing into worldwide markets and attracting expertise to the UK. Shut cooperation and alignment with large, close to buying and selling companions and markets in Europe are vital and sustaining the UK as a prime worldwide vacation spot for gifted college students and graduates is significant.

As well as, regulation – notably round AI – must be a precedence. While the UK’s historic lighter contact throughout sectors can be welcome and assist preserve competitiveness – there’s a stability to be struck between the safety and security that comes with regulation versus the hindrance on innovation.

Labour’s promise to create a brand new Regulatory Innovation Workplace is an encouraging step to cope with the dramatic improvement of those new applied sciences – notably with the rise of damaging deepfakes – however we have to guarantee this isn’t to the detriment of innovation within the UK.

Daniel Jacob, Managing Accomplice at Marriott Harrison

“Staff haven’t been supported to construct the very important abilities they want in recent times”

SMEs are the lifeblood of the economic system. However, from chatting with them, we all know the challenges they’ve confronted in recent times with regards to abilities and innovation. The brand new authorities vowed to help this in its election manifesto, and it is going to be essential for the way forward for the economic system that that is upheld.

In 2022, a authorities Employer Abilities Survey reported that greater than a 3rd of employment vacancies had been on account of an absence of abilities, {qualifications} or expertise amongst candidates.

Staff haven’t been supported to construct the very important abilities they want in recent times, each for their very own success and for the way forward for their business.

The brand new authorities should prioritise abilities and innovation, making certain that they observe by way of on their guarantees to help SMEs, notably in supporting new and rising industries just like the inexperienced economic system to construct the workforce of the long run.

Companies – notably SMEs – additionally require new sorts of help to help innovation. Key to this will probably be in fostering a powerful relationship between instructing, analysis and business to permit every to tell the others’ development.

The Liverpool Metropolis Area has already seen nice success with the government-funded Horizons venture which, led by Liverpool’s three universities, exists to help SMEs with the experience, amenities, and funding wanted to embrace innovation.

With a brand new authorities now in energy, it’s essential it seeks to leverage the advantages that consequence from companies and our main analysis and improvement establishments working collectively.

Anthony Walker, Strategic Supervisor at Liverpool John Moores College

“Sort out our tradition of exhaustion and anxiousness”

Burnout, report and compliance with a business woman working on a computer in her office late at night. Stress, frustrated and problem with an anxious female employee at work on a company deadline.

In right this moment’s high-pressure economic system, staff are sometimes pushed to their limits, making complete psychological well being help in enterprise and company wellness extra vital than ever.

The shift should happen from a tradition of exhaustion and anxiousness to certainly one of training, prevention and help. This includes integrating progressive therapies and resilience-building initiatives into the material of our companies and society.

To underscore the significance of prevention over aftercare, think about this: in 2022/23, 17.1 million working days had been misplaced on account of stress, melancholy, or anxiousness, costing the UK economic system £28.3 billion yearly. Moreover, 76% of staff report moderate-to-high ranges of stress, with 33% acknowledging that this stress negatively impacts their productiveness.

If we wish our workforce to excel, offering the required help programs isn’t just an choice; it’s a necessity, and an funding that provides substantial returns in worker well being, engagement, satisfaction, and general financial success.

Tracey Hill, Founding father of The Pause Impact

“Sustaining a powerful atmosphere for startups should be a core precedence from day one”

With financial development so pivotal to the brand new authorities’s plans, sustaining a powerful atmosphere for startups should be a core precedence from day one. We sit up for working with the federal government to help entrepreneurs and innovators throughout the UK.

The EIS and the SEIS are liable for £32 billion of funding into greater than 56,000 startups and are on the coronary heart of this world class entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re a world chief in making certain startups have entry to essential funding, driving innovation, creating jobs and fuelling development throughout the entire of the UK.

Christiana Stewart-Lockhart, Director Normal of the EIS Affiliation

“Encourage startups to see the chances of pondering greater”

Because the enterprise funding scheme (EIS) marks its thirtieth birthday, it’s time for the brand new authorities to reform its guidelines, together with these for its junior model, the seed enterprise funding scheme (SEIS). By bringing the EIS and SEIS updated, ministers may give life science start-ups the instruments they should assist develop the economic system and generate the taxes wanted to fund public providers.

One key reform can be permitting people to put money into an EIS fund that has the tax advantages of EIS, however may be invested extra like conventional enterprise capital (VC). These funds may use convertible mortgage notes to hurry up the method of investing in new spin-outs and startups with minimal paperwork.

This could allow buyers to work with longer time horizons than a single tax yr and assist each buyers and start-ups plan extra successfully. Having co-founded and grown each Gemini Therapeutics Inc. in Boston and Invizius Ltd in Edinburgh, I’ve seen classes we are able to study from the American early enterprise capital market.

Making these modifications to the EIS and SEIS guidelines would assist entrepreneurs elevate their ambitions, in order that they’re aiming to construct the following technology of $1 billion life sciences unicorns, as a substitute of settling for £100m companies.

This ambition additionally requires a change in mindset – encouraging startups to see the chances of pondering greater by concentrating on buyers in North America, Europe, and Asia from the outset, slightly than focusing solely on native enterprise angel syndicates.

Dr Andy Herbert, Co-founder of Invizius and Gemini Therapeutics

“Labour should maintain the UK engaging to buyers and entrepreneurs, whereas rising tax receipts.”

To ship the expansion the nation wants, it’s very important we don’t disincentivise entrepreneurship. This requires dedication to present schemes, daring fascinated with new ones, and defence in opposition to populist measures with undesirable secondary results.

There was no point out of any modifications to the EIS, SEIS and VCT tax schemes in Labour’s manifesto, however it’s vital that these initiatives are maintained now Labour is in energy, given the very important work they do in supporting UK innovation. We additionally have to see fast enhancements to the R&D tax credit scheme for SMEs, to make sure we stimulate tech innovation throughout the nation.

Labour has mentioned it’ll seek the advice of on modifications to carried curiosity taxation. A change of this magnitude can be greatest solely at the side of OECD international locations, else we danger damaging the asset administration business, a vibrant spot of the UK economic system.

General, Labour should guarantee it finds equilibrium between protecting the UK engaging to buyers and entrepreneurs whereas rising tax receipts. If not, we could discover that second order opposed results of those insurance policies – on development, innovation and tax receipts – could outweigh any proposed positive factors.

Seb Wallace, Co-founder and Funding Director at Triple Level Ventures and fintech founder at Additional

“Closing the carried curiosity loophole will probably be an enormous blow for UK-based expertise”

The Labour social gathering has confirmed it’ll shut the carried curiosity loophole, estimating this can elevate an extra £565m to put money into public providers.

This will probably be an enormous blow for UK-based expertise. The present system sees carried curiosity taxed at 28% which is roughly aligned with different international locations, together with the US. These in favour of the proposal argue it’s vital to take care of equity within the tax system and shut loopholes. These in opposition to it declare it’ll discourage funding into the UK and drive many corporations to depart and go to the US.

The vital focus for Labour ought to be on placing the correct stability between closing tax loopholes whereas making certain the UK stays engaging for funding.

Tom Adcock, Tax Accomplice at Gravita

“Assist the UK’s brightest minds and most progressive startups”

Senior male researcher carrying out scientific research in a lab
The UK does a unbelievable job incubating concepts from the lab and giving them simply sufficient funding to get them on the best way to commercialisation. But, the help stops there.

Traditionally, the UK has tended to push to early success, then chill out and direct funds elsewhere. This implies ultimately shedding out to different international locations – such because the US, Israel and Germany – who double down on the early homegrown success to make sure they’ll scale to turn into vital international gamers.

Whether or not it’s by way of doubling down and spending more cash backing success tales, or longer R&D funding cycles, the brand new authorities wants to deal with its help for the UK’s brightest minds and most progressive startups to remain aggressive and on the forefront of world innovation.

Chris Ballance, CEO of Oxford Ionics

“We now have a generational alternative to put money into enablers for change”

The extremely risky market situations, coupled with a carousel of prime ministers we’ve seen over the previous few years, has led to elevated instability with out offering significant path and management. We want the following authorities to behave within the first 100 days to implement measures that acknowledge and nurture the significance of startups and SMEs as drivers of development and prosperity.

Embracing progressive applied sciences and supporting them in scaling nationally and internationally will immediately improve productiveness and prosperity throughout the nation. We now have a generational alternative to put money into enablers for change. A brand new paradigm is rising – one which leverages AI and knowledge infrastructure to securely and responsibly allow a sustainable future for the UK.

We should finish the seedcorn funding in UK startups which can be left to wither on the vine, whereas thousands and thousands are wasted on white elephants, and damaged siloed applied sciences, acquired at nice expense which don’t profit the UK taxpayer, our abilities panorama or future development. We wish to see bolder insurance policies, backed by clever methods, and clear implementation pathways.

Ali Nicholl, Founding Member of IOTICS

“Gender pay hole reporting is in dire want of a complete overhaul”

Labour’s intention to introduce incapacity and ethnicity pay hole reporting is broadly an excellent factor. However, present gender pay hole reporting is in dire want of a complete overhaul. To cite Bananarama, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the best way that you simply do it”.

The required modifications begin with the phrases. “Pay hole” is just too shut and simply conflated with “equal pay.” How about, as a substitute, gender or ethnic illustration?

The true energy of a reworked methodology can be to steer organisations down a course of that inspired them to inform everybody who they’re, not by an extreme use of percentages (a few of which might be grossly deceptive, statistically talking), however by bringing it again to the individuals behind the numbers.

The chance of this new laws is to permit organisations to explain what’s each inside and with out their management. By this we imply societal, sectoral or geographical elements that will forestall or restrict the hiring of expertise into particular roles which can be at present dominated by a single demographic.

Statements corresponding to “Our hole is because of too many senior males and too many junior girls” have to evaporate. Of their place, what’s wanted is a correct commentary on the challenges of expertise attraction and retention, and insurance policies that will stem the circulation (equal parental depart, wider versatile working the place doable).

Unhealthy sectoral or peer comparisons can in any other case excuse a perceived lack of progress – as if reporting a couple of numbers is magically supposed to enhance the lived experiences of your expertise.

Anthony Horrigan, CEO, Spktral

“Enhance help for feminine entrepreneurs”

The newest authorities has been disjointed in introducing insurance policies that foster the UK’s high-growth scene, so I’d wish to see the brand new authorities actually listening to the sector, making certain that the UK is a benign atmosphere for entrepreneurs.

In addition to this, I wish to see elevated help for feminine entrepreneurs on the listing of presidency priorities.

The brand new authorities wants to make sure they don’t seem to be being performative in direction of female-owned companies, and as a substitute give attention to turning phrases into motion, for instance, by encouraging corporates to purchase extra from these companies.

Sarah Turner, Dwelling Grown Ambassador and Angel Academe CEO

“Nice British Power could possibly be a hub for innovation”

The technology of “Nice British Power” could possibly be a hub for innovation and have huge industrial potential.

The vitality venture gives a chance to seize the numerous advances being made by tutorial establishments in respect of wind energy, fusion vitality and different “greener” sources. With the chance for funds to be circulated again into the vitality infrastructure slightly than filtered off for income, there could possibly be each substantial financial savings for customers in addition to the chance to fund steady innovation within the vitality and associated sectors corresponding to battery expertise.

Labour’s manifesto dedication to extend funding from pension funds was gentle on element. However the message is welcome, as releasing capital focussed on UK-based investments could possibly be extraordinarily priceless for the UK economic system.

Now Labour is in energy, it should work to make sure pension corporations may help fill the funding hole between innovation and implementation, in addition to participating in “later stage” investments into established corporations will probably be vital in driving the innovation ecosystem.

David Holt, IP solicitor at full-service IP legislation agency Potter Clarkson

“If Labour delivers on its promise then we stand to see an inflow of inexperienced jobs”

The Labour Authorities’s promise of Nice British Power provides the UK an unlimited alternative to regain its standing as a pacesetter on local weather change.

It’s a daring coverage, but when Labour delivers on its promise then we stand to see an inflow of inexperienced jobs, alternatives for UK manufacturing and elevated wealth from new improvements created within the UK.

Di Gilpin, CEO and Founding father of Sensible Inexperienced Delivery

“The North wants well-paid, high-skilled jobs.”


The North wants well-paid, high-skilled jobs. When that occurs, UK plc wins. Infrastructure for a start-up ecosystem is vital. Initiatives such because the Sheffield’s Innovation Backbone, Leeds’ Innovation Arc, Atom Valley in Manchester are going to kind the spine for tech ecosystems.

These investments should be supported with better connectivity and what that basically wants is healthier rail providers. Bringing collectively Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield creates an financial space to compete with the most effective on the earth.

Throughout the nation, an absence of development and productiveness signifies that the brand new authorities should give attention to the narrative round what makes the UK engaging as an funding. Two successful traits are our world-class analysis and our entrepreneurialism.

Nineteen of the world’s prime universities are within the UK, making a world-class basis of analysis, notably within the areas of science and deep-tech. Regardless of this, the UK stays a good distance behind the US in benefiting from the commercialisation of this exercise. A constant focus from authorities on supporting funding, infrastructure and connectivity on this space pays advantages over the long run in making a world-class uk plc.

Duncan Johnson, CEO, Northern Gritstone

“Leverage the tech expertise that exists throughout your complete nation”

The brand new authorities has a big alternative to leverage the tech expertise that exists throughout your complete nation, not simply the golden triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford. We now have sturdy ability units and a proud heritage of innovation nationwide, which is usually neglected.

We’re a nation of downside solvers and trailblazers, but too typically, we don’t have the backing to scale these concepts. Any new authorities has to deal with this and improve help for deep-tech corporations and the rising expertise that will probably be of vital nationwide significance right this moment and sooner or later.

Now’s the time for the brand new authorities to hearken to the expertise and science neighborhood and supply the important funding wanted for the UK, notably within the semiconductor business, to not simply compete, however lead globally.

Nick New, CEO and Founding father of Optalysys

“Make rail journey an inexpensive selection for companies nationwide”

Transport has been the largest supply of greenhouse gasoline emissions within the UK since 2016. In 2021, home journey produced 109 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is greater than Bangladesh’s complete emissions in the identical yr.

Over 50% of the UK’s emissions from transport got here from personal automobiles and taxis, whereas lower than 1.5% got here from rail journey. Everyone is aware of that taking the prepare as a substitute of driving is healthier for the atmosphere, however most companies merely cannot afford to take action.

Along with the astronomical worth of prepare journey, Britain’s railways are unreliable, with nearly a 3rd of trains within the first quarter of 2024 operating late. Companies can’t be anticipated to soak up the misplaced productiveness on account of rail delays. As an alternative, the following authorities ought to give attention to reforming the damaged franchise system to make rail journey the inexpensive, dependable and inexperienced selection for companies nationwide.

Eleanor Akers, Director and Founding father of Revolutionary Power Consultants

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