Beat Europe’s economic blues by setting sights upon a brighter future

 
Philip Salter
Follow Philip
MONEY, as they say, makes the world go around. Capital drives innovation and as success begets success the fruits of previous endeavours are ploughed into products and services of future creative destruction. Silicon Valley is the modern pinnacle of this virtuous cycle of money, brains and optimism.

It’s all too easy to compare our failings against the Valley’s successes, but it’s like comparing chalk with cheese. Each country can take a different path to prosperity, which is why calls for the UK to “start building things again like Germany” miss the point. And despite the ever-present Eurozone crisis, the three experts asked about the state of UK venture capitalism all sound a note of cautious optimism (right). After all, many of the world’s great companies were started in tough times: General Electric, FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, CNN, MTV, IBM and Disney, among many others.

A theme that runs through all three columns is the opportunities in Tech City, Silicon Roundabout, or whatever one wishes to call the tech companies in East London. Once again, it’s easy to be cynical towards the politicians attaching themselves like limpets to success, but from speaking to those whose jobs it is to pick winners, there is quiet confidence that this could be a big thing. Its niche appears to be in conflating technology with east London’s recent history of cultural and fashion experimentation – cool Britannia may reign once more.

Mark Littlewood, who heads up the Institute of Economic Affairs (below), calls on the government to do more to oil the wheels of business. Along with the Adam Smith Institute and the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs was instrumental in putting forward polices that helped dig Britain out of the economic stagnation that afflicted it in the 1970s and 1980s. There would be worse people for the coalition government to listen to.

But as tame as this government has undoubtedly been on cutting red tape, the changes that the chancellor made at the last budget to the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) make the UK the envy of Europe.

philip.salter@cityam.com
Twitter: @Philip_Salter