Envied around the world, London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) has been much imitated but never bettered.
I see AIM as the Index of Ambition.
During my recent visit to East Asia, investors and politicians from Seoul to Tokyo kept mentioning their admiration for British scaleup companies.
AIM, of course, provides them with the fuel to grow, so it is with a real source of pride that I open the London Stock Exchange (LSE) this morning to celebrate the annual AIM Forum.
Britain is now third in the global league table for startups, and rapidly climbing – boasting 22 billion-dollar tech companies (so-called unicorns). And as we prepare to leave the EU, I am convinced that it is these high-growth companies that will be the key to our success.
AIM has outlasted its rivals, such as the German Neuer Market which had to close following the tech bubble in the 2000s.
It is home to over three times the number of companies compared to Nasdaq’s European growth exchange. In July this year, £5.6bn worth of shares were traded on AIM, compared with just £658m on Nasdaq’s European growth market.
While others may attempt to copy us, they are a long way from matching the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit.
As a beacon of British enterprise, AIM has helped 3,700 high-growth firms raise £100bn of capital so far.
Well done too to the LSE for championing chief executives of high-growth firms and helping them develop their business and prepare for investment through their elite programme.
From Joules clothes, to the green trucks of Eddie Stobart, to the chocolate gin at Hotel Chocolat – many recognisable brands and innovations we associate with modern Britain have been funded by AIM.
All around the country, AIM-funded companies are bringing jobs, prospects and opportunities.
In my rural constituency of South West Norfolk, which might seem rather far away to many of this newspaper’s readers, we boast four AIM-listed companies covering plant hire, car leasing, pet food and furniture – showing the diverse spread of industries using AIM to grow.
I want more people to know about these companies. To be inspired by them. To want to work for them or to set up a company of their own.
What we need is to make the “invisible hand” of the free market visible so that people can see what is happening around them in the towns and cities across the country.
And I will be clear to entrepreneurs that this government will back you up and champion you.
I want businesses to talk about what they achieve, participating in the debate and encouraging more to join them. I’m fed up of hearing lazy anti-business rhetoric that comes from a ragtag bunch of so-called revolutionaries – who miss the irony of how they benefit from our businesses, as they stay glued to their smartphones and addicted to their coffee.
Instead, let’s celebrate the real revolutionaries in Britain who take big risks, create jobs and transform our lives for the better.
They are the ones who will help drive up living standards and secure Britain’s success in the future.