May 19 2013 Latest news:
By Duncan Brodie
Monday, October 22, 2012
ATTITUDES towards risk taking and finance in the UK are obstacles standing in the way of East Anglia’s ambitions to build on its strengths in the technology sector, delegates at a major regional conference were told today.
The theme of the event, the fourth conference to be staged by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) since its launch last year, was whether East Anglia has the potential to be “the California of Europe”.
Paul Evans, founder and chief executive of Ipswich-based technology company Sharedband, which operates in a number of overseas markets including the United States, highlighted differences in “culture and mentality” between the US and Britain in terms of investment.
Sharedband provides faster, more reliable and cost-effective connections to users without access to superfast fibre-optic broadband, by combining the bandwidth of multiple standard connections.
Mr Evans said that while there were plans for fibre-optic broadband to be made available throughout the UK, this would not happen overnight.
There was also huge potential for the company’s technology overseas, including in the US, where there were greater geographical challenges to the roll-out of fibre-optics than in the UK.
However, Mr Evans said there were major differences in approach to risk-taking between Britain and the US, pointing to Twitter’s success in raising millions of dollars of finance before it had generated a single cent in turnover – something which, he said, would be unlikely to happen in the UK.
Britain was good at coming up with ideas but less so at executing them, said Mr Evans. Banks in the UK would look at the business plan of a company seeking finance and, if it did not show a profit, would be unlikely to offer a loan.
The focus in the US was more on how much the business would need to achieve its potential than on the minimum it could get away with.
Also speaking at today’s event was Jerry Walker, chief executive of Norfolk-based Intelligent Fingerprinting, which is commercialising technology which enables the use and misuse of substances, such as controlled drugs, to be identified through fingerprint samples.
He agreed that funding was an issue but also highlighted the benefits of East Anglia as a region in which to do business, and the qualities which helped to attract high-calibre staff to the region.
“Is East Anglia going to be the next California? California should be so lucky,” he said.