Entrepreneurship week comes to London: Four events worth watching

Tom Welsh
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IT’S GLOBAL Entrepreneurship Week, and this year’s theme (Take a Step Forward) is more timely than usual. Despite record numbers of new startups, UK entrepreneurs still find it more difficult to scale or reach the next stage of their development than their peers in the US. Whatever the reasons (and they are much debated), this is obviously troubling.

But as Philip Salter writes on these pages, there is a growing movement to ensure UK entrepreneurs can access the networks, the peer support, and the political advocacy to make high growth possible. And this extends beyond the high-level call to action of the Entrepreneurs’ Alliance. Global Entrepreneurship Week will see over 3,000 events held in the UK to encourage and celebrate startups. You can find the full line-up at www.gew.org.uk. But here are a few of the best in London this week (and next).

Launched in 2006, the British Library’s Business & IP Centre has built an impressive reputation for providing small firms with free advice, support, and resources. More than 350,000 have used it since launch, and its services build on Department of Business research that companies that seek external support are typically more ambitious, with higher relative turnovers.

In partnership with Barclays, tomorrow night it’s holding In The Den with the Dragons, where speakers including Kelly Hoppen, Doug Richard, and Piers Linney will talk about scaling up and business management techniques. Tickets are sold out, but you can watch online via a live webcast on the Business & IP Centre’s website. (www.bl.uk/bipc). If you miss it, between 2pm and 5pm on Thursday, the Library will also host a speed mentoring session, with marketing, intellectual property, funding, export, and sales experts.

On Thursday, Canary Wharf’s Level 39 will hold London Disrupts Finance, a full-day event where the founders and executives of London’s leading financial technology companies will share their insights into the sector and showcase their products. Despite a heavyweight entrepreneurial line-up (including the chief executives of Azimo, Ratesetter and Iwoca), it’s not just for would-be startups. It intends to educate financial professionals in the disruptive trends shaking the sector – with discussions on the implications of the crypto-currency bitcoin, the evolution of cybercrime, and Big Data in finance. The event is not free, however, and a full conference pass will cost you £298. Register your interest at http://londondisruptsfinance.com

As George Whitehead of Octopus Investments has put it, while “networking is often considered to be a soft skill with soft benefits, it is vital for turning an idea into reality.” It can be a chance to meet VCs, potential co-founders, or business partners, for instance. With this in mind, Cospa founder Oli Barrett is teaming up with Start Up Britain to try and break the world’s speed networking record at 8.30am on Thursday. Held at Hub Westminster, the startup laboratory on Pall Mall, Barrett wants to surpass the 406 people who met at a similar event in Hong Kong last month. It’s not just a bit of fun, however. The record won’t be broken unless serious business connections are made. Visit www.startupbritain.co to register.

Although falling just outside the week itself, Enterprise Nation is launching its latest pop up at Club Workspace on Chancery Lane a week today. It’s aimed at City workers with an interest in entrepreneurship and, until 19 December, anyone can attend lunchtime or after-work workshops on building business plans, enterprise law, social media strategy, and marketing. Most events are free, and you can find out more details at www.enterprisenation.com

Tom Welsh is business features editor at City A.M.