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Event Report: Coadec’s #StartupManifesto Launch

Sep 5, 2014

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Coadec’s #StartupManifesto at Google’s London co-working space, Campus. Coadec is the Coalition for a Digital Economy and is the policy voice for digital/tech startups.

The aim of the manifesto is to set out 24 policy goals which they believe the next government should adopt and which will make the UK a(n) (even) better place for digital startups.

I’d encourage anyone with an interest in the future of tech entrepreneurship to read the Startup Manifesto.

Its calls for action are split into 5 main areas:

  • Improve access to finance;
  • Improve access to talent;
  • Build a world class digital infrastructure and increase the supply of affordable office space;
  • Bring laws and regulations into the 21st century; and
  • Use digital government to unlock innovation.
     

The launch event focussed on a Q&A session with a well chosen panel giving a full view of the UK’s digital start up ecosystem, particularly in London:

  • Guy Levin of Coadec – a former government adviser turned lobbyist;
  • Eileen Burbidge – a partner at Passion Capital, a venture capital firm which focusses on investing in early stage tech companies;
  • Gerard Grech – CEO of TechCityUK;
  • Taavet Hinrikus a founder of Fintech success TransferWise.
     

My two cents:

A couple of the comments and questions in particular struck a chord.  One questioner described his background as being in a “13 year old start up”.  In a law firm which was, not so very long time ago, a start up itself (Waterfront celebrated its 12th birthday this year) that feels like a familiar concept. However, there were others there, like Transferwise, that emphasised how much faster the corporate life cycle is, or at least can be, in the tech sector.

New startups are often born or incubated at Campus or one of the other co-working spaces popping up all over London (and elsewhere in the UK).  There seems to be something particular in the culture of those places which creates enthusiasm and drive.  For example, one chap I spoke with before the talk was wistful about his time at Campus, where he’d developed a start up.  That start up failed, but it gave him the experience  for another fledgling business.  That business, a Fintech startup, has managed to get investment and two year later, is funded has over 100 employees (though not all in the UK).

Again and again the panel and audience gave reasons why the UK, and London in particular, is special for startup tech companies:

  • Location – it provides access to a diverse and huge talent pool from across the EU;
  • Diversity – of people, but also of skills and experience.  Fintech was lauded as a success story that would have struggled anywhere else.  In the USA, the panel contrasted New York with itsfinance nous but no (or at least limited) tech skills withSan Francisco, which isa tech centre with out the finance focus.  This was an opportunity – several panellists said – for the UK to do more.  To really take advantage of those industries in whichthe UK has a history , from advertising to fashion and design and to create new opportunities for cross over.
     

Cross overs between tech and other sectors are happening outside the Fintech bubble.  We reported on our experience of a Fashtech (or Fashion and Technology) event on this blog a few months ago.  In October, London will host the Adtech (Advertising and Technology) conference.  There is room for more.

I look forward to following the progress of the #StartupManifesto.  You can too by following @Coadec on twitter.