‘Industrial policy needs to be more balanced’
BY HUGO GREENHALGH
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Entrepreneurs have called on the government to shift the focus to established businesses in the face of a wave of recent initiatives aimed at encouraging young people to start their own company.
Anil Stocker, co-founder and director of MarketInvoice, the online invoice marketplace, said: “Betting the whole house on young entrepreneurs wouldn’t be prudent. What we need is a balanced industrial policy that supports innovative young start-ups as well as more traditional, established businesses.
“Despite all the media hype about ‘Silicon Roundabout’ how many truly global successful start-ups have come from the British Isles in the last five years?”
Chris Arnold, creative partner and co-founder of Creative Orchestra, an Anglo-Spanish ad agency, said he admired the optimism of young people, but added: “With so much red tape, lack of finance [and] too many regulations even my son, who is very entrepreneurial, thinks it’s easier to work for a company than start one.”
Peter Hemington, partner at firm BDO, the business advisory and accountancy firm, praised the fresh wave of interest in business start-ups, but called for “a slight tempering of enthusiasm, as it is probably the medium-sized rather than small and micro-businesses that have the most impact”.
Among the programmes designed to help young entrepreneurs, StartUp Britain, the not-for-profit campaigning organisation, is set to embark on a month-long bus tour of 40 universities and further education colleges to publicise the £82m in start-up loans available for people aged 18-24. In June, the Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland received £1m to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The comments follow the publication of a report by the Royal Society for the Arts that suggested young entrepreneurs offered the best route out of recession for the UK. Last month the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report revealed increased entrepreneurial activity among 18-29 year olds – a fact welcomed by many in the entrepreneurial community.
Sophie Coles, director of business development at Squirrl.com, the B2B peer funding platform, said: “If we just concentrate on the established businesses, how can we move forward and find new ideas and solutions that will ultimately benefit us all?”
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said established businesses play a vital role in boosting the UK economy. “With targeted support we are providing entrepreneurs with opportunities that can help make our SMEs the household names of tomorrow,” he said.