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StartUp Britain co-founder: The UK should be leading on EU small business policy

Hannah Wilkinson | 9 March 2016 | 8 years ago

EU small business
Tech city CEO Gerardgrechbelieves that London is the capital of the EU’s digital economy
Entrepreneur and small business campaigner Michael Hayman has called for British small business owners to take the lead in the SME space in the event that the UK votes to stay in Europe.

The co-founder of public relations company Seven Hills and entrepreneurship campaigning organisation StartUp Britain which offers advice and guidance to the founders of young businesses made the comments at a Spectator event on how SME owners can make the most of the opportunities offered by Britain’s membership of the EU.

Tech city CEO Gerardgrechechoed the sentiment. London is the capital of the EU’s digital economy, he argued, pointing to the the 161bn turnover of the UK’s tech businesses. But he cautioned that well-developed policy on skills and traning is vital if Britain is to continue to lead in this area, explaining: Investment always follows ideas and talent, not the other way round.

With the possibility of a Brexit also on the horizon as the referendum on the issue draws closer, Hayman was confident that the UK’s enterprising small business owners will be able to thrive whatever the outcome of the vote, insisting: Whatever happens, businesses will adapt.

MP Damien Green was less sanguine, cautioning: The best way SME owners can maximize our opportunities within Europe is to make sure were in. The 42 per cent of small business leaders who are still undecided need to realise that opportunities will disappear in the case of a Brexit.

‘small firms are more fragile than big business. The risks of Brexit that Bank of England governor Mark Carney has talked about recently like inflation and currency volatility would have a far more detrimental effect on SMEs, he added.

Green pointed to the fact that 40 UK SMEs have already received funding through Horizon 2020, an EU innovation programme which will make 3bn in funding available to SMEs over the period 2014-2020 as well as providing coaching and mentorship to small firm leaders.

Economist Vicky Pryce from the Centre for Economics and Business Research emphasised the improvements to operating in the EU that small firm owners could drive if voters decide to stay in Europe. The idea that there are no transaction costs within Europe is not true, she said, arguing that a harmonisation of corporate and contract law would make it easier for small firm owners taking the first steps into exporting to Europe.

What direction would you like to see EU small business policy head in if we stay in the union? Use the comments box to let us know.

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