Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012
Questions & Answers, 17th May 2012
1) You’re one of the most prominent speakers at Digital Shoreditch. How would you characterise the “City’s” view of the creative hub sitting right on your doorstep?
There is a genuine sense of excited anticipation in the City about what is being created in Shoreditch. The City and London Stock Exchange have a long history of supporting fast-growing technology companies, so to see the development of a world-class hub on our doorstep is truly exciting. I think it also demonstrates the phenomenal breadth of creative companies that London and the UK more generally are capable of producing.
2) One of the criticisms of the City over several decades is that it has failed to embrace and nurture UK-based innovation. Do you think this is justified and how would you respond?
I don’t think that is at all justified. London Stock Exchange and AIM in particular have, alongside the wider venture capital industry, long-served as sources of equity financing for ambitious entrepreneurs, fast growing start-ups and many of the UK’s most innovative companies. More than 165 hi-tech companies are listed across our markets where £18bn has been raised at admission and through further issues since 2000 to support their growth. The UK is up there as one of the best places for innovators to find funding for their ideas.
3) Everyone now looks at Silicon Valley as an example of a cluster with an ecosystem directly connecting innovators, entrepreneurs and the folks with money. Tell us more about the role LSE can play in connecting these stakeholders in new business creation.
The ecosystem-effect is super-important. That’s why events like Digital Shoreditch are so vital in bringing together entrepreneurs and representatives from every stage along the business funding ladder. AIM’s long track record of supporting fast growing businesses is testament to that. Indeed the successful development of AIM itself is thanks in large part to the ecosystem of advisors across finance, accountancy, law and public relations who work with young and growing companies to help them achieve their funding goals and reach their full potential.
4) Do you think government has an important role to play? In what way?
Yes, the Government is a key driver of promoting innovation, growth and job creation in SMEs.There is much they can and are doing. At the highest level, government has a key role in promoting UK business and highlighting our country’s incredible skills and expertise in the creative sector. We would encourage the government to continue to focus on widening the pool of potential investors in SMEs. There is still more that can be done in the regulatory and fiscal environment to help spur growth and investment in our most dynamic and enterprising companies.
5) What are you hoping to bring to Digital Shoreditch – and what would you like to take away from your high-profile participation?
It’s a great opportunity to highlight how the public equity markets can help entrepreneurs and small business people like those attending and that they are not just the preserve of big business. Markets like AIM are there to support the UK’s SME sector and work alongside investors keen to tap into the type of high growth businesses such as those at Digital Shoreditch. What do I want to take away? As many contacts as I can. This is a fantastic chance to continue to build our community, to support the exciting and creative work being done not just in Shoreditch, but across the UK.