A nation of shopkeepers? Entrepreneurs, more like!

ENTREPRENEURIAL Britain is a two-day initiative planned for 2021 and designed “to reignite the entrepreneurial spirit” of UK towns and cities.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the attendant trend towards digital living have caused concern for urban prosperity. With a peer-to-peer learning conference, the event aims to share ideas on how to invigorate local economies.

Featured subjects will include entrepreneurial clusters, attracting investment, funding, diversity and inclusion, and successful high street blueprints. There will be awards for those who have illustrated how to improve transport links, encourage graduates to stay in an area, mobilise communities, make use of public spaces, and support local business heroes.

Existing infrastructure — malls, office parks and high streets — may soon become redundant, organisers say. The conference will look at ways to reimagine these spaces as engines for socio-economic development.

The host city for 2021 will be announced soon. The winning city for 2021 will be the host for 2022, setting a pattern for future events.

Nick James, founder of Fresh Business Thinking, said the initiative set its sights on entrepreneurial clusters and how their successes can be replicated. “An example that stands out to us is Frederick Terman,” he said, “who is widely credited as the founder of Silicon Valley.

“In the 1920s, he was a member of the Stanford University engineering faculty … Terman encouraged students to stay in the Valley and to set up their businesses there, which he sometimes invested in. The rest is history.”

Entrepreneurial Britain is being launched by the founders of The Great British Entrepreneur Awards. One of those founders, Francesca James, said modern life has been reshaped by the pandemic and digital transformation.

“We must support regional business creation, growth and entrepreneurial activity to create sparks in the UK economy,” she said. “The British economy would benefit to the tune of £34bn a year by 2030 if the local economies of towns and cities were to realise their full entrepreneurial potential over the next decade.”