Companies worth championing

Commentary by Tim Hames, Director General, British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association

Tim HamesThere are now many more awards for businesses, lists of companies and incentives for innovation than there used to be. This is a positive development reflecting a national culture that has truly started to recognise the importance of fast-growing firms to our economy and to our society. However, this ‘cottage industry’ can be a little confusing. Which research is really worth investigating?

“It is more vital than ever that we champion the SME sector and celebrate those involved in it”

My support for this publication, and for the work of all those at London Stock Exchange Group who have brought this information to light, is based on three factors. The first is its scale. One thousand companies might be but a snapshot of some 5.25 million businesses that now exist in the UK but it is still an enormous endeavour to accumulate the data. This work surpasses the test needed to be more than an intriguing, but ultimately limited, set of case studies and allows us the critical mass to draw interesting and important conclusions. The second element is the diversity that this report includes and indeed uncovers. This is a survey that shows how companies are changing the landscape across the whole of the UK, not just certain regions of it, and in a fascinating array of sectors, some of which did not even exist a decade ago.

Finally, I am strongly of the view that ‘inspire’ is the right word to employ when looking at the picture of the emerging business community contained within this publication. All of us – including the media, officials and politicians – should be inspired not only by the example being set, but also by the sheer courage of the individuals and institutions that have struck out on their own.

“Inspire is the right word to employ when looking at the picture of the emerging business community contained within this publication”

Much of British public discourse this year and for the next few years will inevitably be dominated by Brexit and its implications, its challenges and its opportunities. It is, of course, crucial that the UK Government secures, as it is seeking to do, the best terms possible as we leave the European Union (EU). Yet, the reality is that whether we succeed or fail, as an economy and a country, beyond our exit will only be partly influenced by the rules and precise relationship between the UK and the EU after it. Our prosperity and our purpose as a nation will actually be shaped by whether or not we foster more companies like those featured in this report and create the conditions for them to thrive.

  • 5.25m - the number of businesses that now exist in the UK

All of which means that it is more vital than ever that we champion the SME sector and celebrate those involved in it. Not all SMEs have the characteristics required to become supersized firms in the years to come but some of them will, and that ambition should be assisted rather than restricted by them encountering a raft of regulation as their numbers of employees start to rise.

The LSEG is to be lauded for the keen attention that it has provided to the businesses of the future. If that future is to be what we should want it to be then we all need to align with the LSEG in this wonderful enterprise.