Business leaders from the West set to take part in ‘mission’ to Hong Kong
In the UK, scale-up businesses contribute £1trn to the economy and have created three million jobs. A cornerstone of Britain’s ambitions to become a modern industrial powerhouse, the nurturing of growth companies is more important than ever as much of the world faces tough economic challenges.
Key to realising these ambitions is to look at global collaboration, says Richard Lowe, founder of Tech West England Advocates (TWEA).
As the scale-up organisation prepares for its first mission to Hong Kong this November, Richard shares his thoughts on the benefits of looking East for expansion and investment, how community unlocks success for founders and world domination for the West Country.
“The Global Tech Advocates organisation has been running for years and has seen huge success. Some of the biggest names in business have been supported through its resources to grow. As a result, advocate programmes have sprung up all over the world, creating a truly unique ecosystem for ambitious founders and investors that wish to connect with like-minded people to share, learn and grow.
“Importantly, the growth of the organisation has offered ever-more global opportunities. Whether that is via collaboration, advice or – as is the case for our West England mission – global expansion and accessing finance from new places, it’s become a one-stop shop where members can count on one another. I think I can fairly say everyone is really proud of what we are creating together.
“I am especially proud of the fast take-off of the West England group. Some of the fastest-growing businesses in the country are based here, but there wasn’t really a community specifically designed to support them. As is often the case, once you’re beyond the start-up incubator period of your business’s success, you’re essentially expected to go it alone much more.
“But that really leaves some of our future ‘captains of industry’ a bit vulnerable. Even in the information age, how do you decide who to turn to for investment and guidance for scaling up? It’s an absolute minefield, especially with the turn in the global economy, where we are seeing that the fight for funding is becoming more heated.
“In fact, we saw venture capital funding in the UK organisations drop to £2.9bn in Q1 of 2023, according to KPMG. That’s down from £12.3bn in the same period of last year. You have to shout louder, be clearer and know where you’re heading to get a slice of the pie – and working that out takes allies who can act as your sounding board and point you in the direction of the right service providers when you need them.”
Hong Kong’s ecosystem
Richard continues: “Which is where an organisation like TWEA steps in. Members have each other to share war stories, signpost great support and celebrate success. And, they get the benefit of curated activity, such as our mission to Hong Kong which will give mission delegates unparalleled access to an enormous networking opportunity to meet prospects, partners, investors and inspiration.
“The development of Hong Kong’s Tech ecosystem has been a top priority for the local Government in recent years, with more than HKD$150bn invested since 2017. Hong Kong has significantly stepped-up support for scientific research and technology sectors by developing infrastructure, promoting research and development, nurturing talent, promoting re- industrialisation and enhancing financial support to enterprises. This opportunity of complete access is unprecedented and everything we can get from it is very exciting.
“Not least because we think that the local tech scene will be quite impressed with us too. West England is home to many tech giants – the likes of Dyson is one of our most famous exports and boasts a lovely base in Wiltshire.
“We also have some of the most exciting burgeoning tech brands. Ultraleap and Open Bionics are frequently touted as ‘soonicorns’. We have world-class universities which are turning out bright minds; Bristol and Birmingham are top UK tech hubs for spinouts. This mission to Hong Kong aims to open opportunities for companies based across West England and beyond.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of the tech scene in the UK. The Government is committing funding for innovation and organisations like UK Tech Advocates communities who are attracting impressive professionals and mentors that want to give back. For those whose great idea has already started taking off, now is the best time to scale up and the support to take you forward is there.”
Registration to attend the mission to Hong Kong is open now, to founders across West England. For more information go to www.techwestenglandadvocates.co.uk