Globally and locally, innovation is the focus

1 week – 160 countries – 20,000 partners – 35,000 events – 10 million people… it can only mean one thing: Global Entrepreneurship Week!

Yes, last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW): the one week of the year that is focused on inspiring entrepreneurial activity and connecting innovators around the world to potential collaborators, mentors and investors.

Here at the Catalyst Centre of course, promoting entrepreneurship and encouraging effective collaborative working is what we do day in, day out and it’s always immensely pleasing to see our region being recognised for, and benefiting from, the work that we do here.

Earlier this year for example, Southampton was ranked in the top ten best cities for technology jobs in the UK, coming in eighth out of 22. The Tech Nation 2016 Report, researched and published by TechCity UK, concluded: “With an impressive 180% growth in average turnover between 2010 and 2014, and over 80% of digital tech businesses trading overseas, Southampton is now a rapidly growing cluster.” Compared to London’s digital turnover growth for the same period at 101%, this is impressive and surely something to celebrate.

There are many reasons for Southampton’s success including location – it’s quite simply a fantastic place to live and work, the talent pool that exists here, and of course the steady stream of ideas coming out of research conducted at the University of Southampton. See and hear first-hand, the Catalyst Programme entrepreneurs’ views on why they chose Southampton on our YouTube channel.

Looking wider afield, the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index, which was revealed during GEW, named the UK one of the top places for entrepreneurs to start and scale new businesses. Again, the UK was placed eighth in the new global index of more than 130 startup ecosystems.

Retrospectively then, it seems we’re doing all the right things. But what’s far more interesting is what’s going to happen next for the UK’s innovation sector. The Global Entrepreneurship Index concluded that “improving the conditions for entrepreneurs and startups by just 10% in the UK could add £370 billion to the economy…”

Encouragingly, this recommendation looks like it might be taken on-board – and fast! In her first keynote speech at a CBI conference, Prime Minister Theresa May, today stated that her aim for the UK was for it to be “profoundly pro-innovation”. What does this mean in practice? Well, Mrs May promised ‘an ambitious modern industrial strategy, along with a new way of thinking for government – a new approach’. She hinted that the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement would detail increased tax credits for research and development, reductions in corporation tax and £2bn of investment in scientific research. There was further discussion about investment in science and technology businesses at Nucleus Expo in Southampton.

It seems that the whole world is increasingly becoming ‘profoundly pro-innovation’ and long may this continue – with Southampton and the Catalyst Centre at its very heart.