Grant Shapps outlines his vision for ‘Scale-Up Britain’ in a keynote speech to business leaders at Davos saying he wants to “to create is a Silicon Valley with a British edge.”
The Business Secretary Grant Shapps today (19 January 2023) set out his vision for ‘Scale-Up Britain’ in a keynote speech to business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, vowing to support the Chancellor and Prime Minister in the government’s growth agenda.
In his speech, hosted by the Confederation of British Industry, the Secretary of State noted that the UK now has a government which is making the right decisions for Britain and for our economic recovery.
Acknowledging the current global economic challenges, the Secretary of State said:
At difficult times like this, our instinct could be to turn inwards, think smaller, hedge our bets, and protect domestic industry by closing ourselves off.
But that’s precisely the opposite of what’s needed right now. Rather, we must open up more. We must think bigger, take strategic risks.
Mr Shapps continued:
Now for this government, ‘growth’ isn’t a goal, a target or a destination. It’s the cornerstone of everything we are doing. And that’s because it’s the single biggest enabler of everything we want to deliver.
How do we fix the NHS? Growth. How do we tackle the cost of living? Growth. How do we level up our country and make it fairer for all? Growth.
The Business Secretary noted that, in the last 50 years, roughly half of the UK’s productivity increase has been achieved through innovation, praising “entrepreneurs, disruptors, risk takers and innovators.”
With the world on the cusp of a new Industrial Revolution, Mr Shapps set out both the advantages and challenges facing Britain in the global economic race. He said:
We have never lacked great inventors, clever ideas, or promising start-ups. Last year, the UK was ranked among the five most innovative nations on earth by the World Intellectual Property Office, ahead of South Korea, Germany, China and Singapore.
What we must do better is convert start-ups to scale-ups. I want to inspire ‘Scale-up Britain’. Building businesses that don’t just develop in the UK, but stay to grow and mature into world-beaters.
Mr Shapps highlighted the economic opportunities presented by the UK leaving the European Union, including winning back powers to back investment in Britain, coupled with other natural advantages enjoyed by the UK, including our position as a leading global finance centre, our universities and our regulatory environment.
The Business Secretary also highlighted that while we can learn from the success of other nations, we can also learn from their mistakes, ensuring that growth and scale-up in Britain reflects the high standards for which we are famous around the world.
I think we can learn a lot from Silicon Valley’s ambition and its record creating global tech brands. But we can also learn from the mistakes it has made.
Its unicorns have sometimes prioritised shareholder value above all else. Its culture sometimes falls short of the standards we expect from modern employers. And whilst it has made a few people unimaginably rich, the wealth isn’t shared by everyone with homelessness in nearby San Francisco a visible sign of this inequality.
So what I want to create is a Silicon Valley with a British edge.
In order to help the government to seize these opportunities, the Secretary of State announced the launch of a new Scale-up Summit, allowing ministers to listen to key frontier tech figures who have worked around the world.
Concluding his speech, Mr Shapps said:
To help us raise our game, we need to listen to a wider variety of entrepreneurs currently driving change.
So I will launch a Scale-up Summit to bring together key frontier tech, development and finance figures who have accelerated tech businesses from start-ups to scale-ups…who have worked around the world, from California to Tallin and who can help us replicate their success in the UK, from Catford to Teesside.
Picture by Brandon Hattiloney / Home Office