In 2014, Britain was hailed fourth in terms of most entrepreneurial countries in the world – its highest ranking in history according to Imperial College. “But entrepreneurial aspirations,” it claimed, “remains a relative weak spot for us compared to other leading countries.” Imperial’s conclusion was based on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, which claimed the UK had steadily been improving since 2012 when it ranked 14th. This was largely due to British entrepreneurs providing unique products and their ability to recognise opportunities. At the time, professor Zoltan Acs, co-author of the study, explained: ” While there is not that much difference in entrepreneurial ability, the UK lags over 20 index points (out of 100) behind the US in entrepreneurial aspirations. The challenge for the UK, then, is to make its entrepreneurs more innovative, growth seeking and internationally oriented.” But while we seem to have taken some of Acs’ advice on board in terms of creating a healthy support system for business owners, the UK has now been relegated to fifth spot when it comes to entrepreneurial countries, the Ashish J. Thakkar Global Entrepreneurship Index has found. “The Index indicates that on the global stage, Britain is one of the most open and nurturing environments for entrepreneurs to build their own businesses,” said Opinium managing director James Endersby – the firm worked with the Mara foundation to create the index.“However, while fifth place is a significant and admirable position in the overall ranking, the lack of entrepreneurial spirit that it indicates in the average citizen is concerning. More must be done to encourage people to take hold of the opportunities available to them, particularly if we want to continue to nurture our economic position in a post-Brexit environment.” In fact, Britain has one of the lowest scores of any of the top ten countries in terms of attitude, as well as a lack of appetite among Brits to start a firm. This may need to change if the UK hopes to demolish the GEDI’s current prediction of the country being ranked eighth in 2017. There are two factors that could prevent this though. The index claimed what kept the UK afloat, in large part, was its supportive financial culture. “In particular, the nation scores extremely high in terms of its attractiveness to investors in venture capital and private equity, bettered only by the US, due to its acknowledged history as a stable economy that is optimal for investors,” the index said. This could further be boosted by recent measures announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in the Autumn Statement, which will see the UK pump £400m of venture capital funds into the British Business Bank. Those international aspirations quoted by previous report as being lacking may also be solved via additional export finance funds, taking “total risk appetite to £5bn”. With this financial support up our sleeve and the government’s policy and encouragement of entrepreneurs, we may not fall so low down the index – if we will at all. Image:ShutterstockBy Shané Schutte
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