How do we fire up the start-ups? Webinar, February 2021

Key Points from our Webinar:

The West Midlands StartUp Engine has some faulty valves….


  • Initial survival and scaling of start-ups a key concern – not interested in the volume of start-ups per se
  • Very few firms that can be categorised as ‘high-growth’ or have shown evidence of scaling
  • Growth ambition among early-stage entrepreneurs and micro-businesses is low
  • Relatively lower levels of innovation
  • These ‘weak’ business growth metrics show some correlation with low levels of productivity


What’s working for the region:


  • Excellent incubators in the region/coupled with range of expertise across thew Higher Education sector – we have people interested in starting businesses
  • Importance of facilities within HE to support innovation
  • Strong community of businesses and access to talent is key
  • UK referred to as ‘best place to start and grow an innovation led company’; able to benefit from R&D credits; access to Innovate grants; benefitted from ‘Patent Box’ (Government tax relief scheme which has reduced Corporation Tax rate on profits to 10%)
  • Growth in number of international businesses looking to HQ in the region – credibility of being a UK based company


Where the challenges are and what needs to improve:


  • Access to resources and support for people from poorer backgrounds; similar issue raised re access to capital (reach of an individual’s social networks)
  • Dependency on support/grants – reluctance of entrepreneurs to invest in growing businesses
  • General feeling that we don’t need more start-ups – unless this is the aim. We need the businesses which can scale up and provide employment opportunities
  • Businesses need capital and expertise to compliment the expertise they have – quite often underestimate how much they will need of both
  • Investment models have to include equity
  • Many businesses lack the ability to digitise their Sales and Marketing capability
  • Notion that anyone can be an entrepreneur – magical concept but an idea is just a tiny part of the process
  • Mentors in mentorship programmes need to have had run their own enterprises
  • LEPs need to be resourced properly – England is in a mess in terms of business support
  • Business support could be better promoted
  • Only 9% of investment goes into female led businesses
  • Is there more we can do to incentivise and reward those creating businesses who are aiming to ‘Build Back Better’