How will Brexit affect London’s tech startup scene & how does it compare to Newcastle / the North East of England, Paris & Lisbon?

How will Brexit affect London’s tech startup scene and how does London compare to Newcastle / the North East of England, Paris and Lisbon?

IPPR (The Institute for Public Policy Research)’s latest report, ‘Charting a course for the future: How London’s startup scene can survive and thrive in the age of Brexit‘ provides an excellent insight into London’s tech startup scene in June 2018, rebalancing the economy through devolution, the challenges that lie ahead for the UK and also some great case studies on the tech startup scenes in Newcastle / North East of England, Paris and Portugal.

(Click / tap on the image below to download).

IPPR Charting a Course for the Future: How London's startup scene can survive & thrive in the age of Brexit

About IPPR

IPPR is the UK’s leading progressive think tank and an independent charitable organisation with our main offices in London. IPPR North, IPPR’s dedicated think tank for the North of England, operates out of offices in Manchester and Newcastle, and IPPR Scotland, their dedicated think tank for Scotland, is based in Edinburgh.

IPPR’s purpose is to conduct and promote research into, and the education of the public in, the economic, social and political sciences, science and technology, the voluntary sector and social enterprise, public services, and industry and commerce.

Community Work

One of my favourite business / economic development books is ‘Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City‘ by Brad Feld (Co-Founder of TechStars, VC & Managing Director of Foundry Group based in Boulder, Colorado).

In it, he compares the old, industrial era way of working under a hierarchy to the modern, information age where early stage entrepreneurship flourishes without one. He says if the hierarchy tries to drive the startup community it essentially stifles it. Instead of a hierarchy, many aspects of what we do today are working as a network.

When Brad talks about his ‘Boulder Thesis’ comprising 4 parts which he says are ‘essential to a sustainable, vibrant startup community’, I believe we already have a lot of this in Newcastle & the wider North East of England.

Watch the video and read my comments below to see if you feel the same….

  1. ‘The community must be led by entrepreneurs’ – The entrepreneurs are the leaders whilst the Government, Universities, VC’s, lawyers, etc are the feeders. The latter are important but they can’t and shouldn’t be the leaders determining how the community will grow and evolve. This is the role of the entrepreneurs who are anyone that is being creative, inventing and making things happen. I particularly like this idea and am excited by the fact that there are many different people doing interesting and exiting things in the North East right now simply because they want to, not because it’s their job or they are getting paid to do it. The opposite is when events and activities are controlled and dictated by a select few, which then has a negative impact on the wider community as it doesn’t allow people to experiment, learn and grow together. As Brad says at the very end of the video, ‘It’s the network chaos of entrepreneurs doing what entrepreneurs do to create things – that force to build something bigger than themselves and their company which is so incredibly powerful’.
  2. ‘Entrepreneurs have to take a very long-term view’ – It may take 20yrs+ before the startup community benefits from the work that they do. (According to this Tech North article we’re about 14yrs into the journey). Over time there ‘will be some extraordinary successes but also some really huge failures’. Even when someone is extremely successful they should still remain part of that community. Likewise, when someone is a failure, don’t cast them out of the community. Help them dust themselves off and welcome them back into the fold, reinforcing the idea that it’s ok to fail – it’s just part of the process. This is one thing that I think we could do better at in the North East. There are some, but at present I don’t see enough successful entrepreneurs reinvesting their own wealth into new startups and sharing their expertise, nor big businesses using them as suppliers, partners and innovation hubs.
  3. ‘You have to have a philosophy of inclusiveness’ – It’s not just other entrepreneurs but anyone who is interested in being part of the startup ecosystem should be ‘allowed in’ without any special handshakes, having the right credentials or ‘being in with the in crowd’. If everyone contributes energy to the startup community, it’ll get bigger and grow faster, be more successful and more fun. From my experience, the developers in the North East in particular are extremely welcoming and supportive of each other, always willing to help each other out and share knowledge and expertise. There are some natural leaders amongst them but it’s not forced and there is no set agenda other than doing things for the greater good of the community, having fun and growing as an individual. Regular collaboration & a sense of community are real strengths of the North East tech & digital sector.
  4. ‘You have to have activities and events that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack’ – These need to be content rich and full of useful content rather than simply a networking event or award dinner. The weekly developer meetups, monthly digital showcases & educational events previously hosted at the Campus North co-working & event space & now held at places like Tuspark Eagle Lab in Newcastle have been a major boost to the local startup community. My own 5-day ‘Newcastle Startup Week‘ festival was created to help engage the wider business community, attracting 600+ delegates from the North East, across the UK, Europe, USA and Asia. Our free monthly Founders’ Friday events also provide a useful platform for new, existing & potential business startup founders to come together with members of the wider business community to share knowledge, insights & support.

Newcastle and the wider North East of England is a fantastic place to start or grow a business, especially a tech / digital / creative one but the work is never done & we mustn’t get complacent or take things for granted. It’s important to take regular (probably annual) & honest reviews of where we are, how far we’ve come & where things can be improved but we’re in good shape & there’s nowhere I’d rather be!

‘The Experience Bank’ helps SMEs connect with Non–Executive Directors

The Experience Bank‘ has launched in the North East to forge better connections between Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) and entrepreneurs.

The not-for-profit, business-led initiative will help facilitate introductions between small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to reap the benefits of working with an experienced NED.

The benefits of bringing a NED into a business include a fresh perspective, additional sector knowledge, better business decisions, and support with overcoming challenges. A good NED can also bring new skills, networks and open doors.

Geoff Hodgson, Chair of The Experience Bank Advisory Board, explained: “There’s a need for an initiative to act as a kind of ‘dating agency’ between Non Executive Directors and companies here in the North East, helping businesses to access talented people who can support them as they grow. While not a commercial match-maker, The Experience Bank does just that”.

The Advisory Board at The Experience Bank manages a high quality network of NEDs and helps make appropriate introductions to businesses, depending on their specific needs. A NED may be identified because they have skills in a specific area needed by the team, such as marketing, law or financial planning.

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP, added: “Access to talented Non-Executive Directors is key to helping businesses in the region to scale and that’s why the North East LEP is supporting the launch of The Experience Bank, which will be a real asset to the North East.”

Neil Warwick, Head of EU and Competition law at commercial law firm Square One Law, said: “The Experience Bank is driven by a passion for the region, a passion to do something different and to make a difference. It’s all about getting talented people to help growing companies.”

Chris Reed, Founder of ProxiSmart Ltd, attended The Experience Bank’s launch event and said: “Non-Executive Directors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, and it’s leaning on that know-how that really can help your business in particular areas where you might not have the expertise yourself.”

The Experience Bank is now accepting applications from experience business leaders who want to work as NEDs in the North East and also from business owners who would like to work with NEDs.

More information about The Experience Bank is available on the North East Growth Hub here.