We were thrilled to participate in a roundtable with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Justin was in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April 2018.
Hosted by the Canadian High Commission, Prime Minister Trudeau addressed a number of subjects including the Canada-UK relationship, Brexit along with concerns over the difficulties of building infrastructure projects (including the Trans Mountain Pipeline).
We specifically asked the Prime Minister what levers the government has to help new businesses start and scale and how Canada could produce more success stories like Shopify.
We've noticed that some of our Canadian clients didn't seem to have the same resources or support as many of our UK clients when they started.
Here's what we learnt:
The Canadian Government has invested significant time and effort into understanding the successes and failures of both the British and American government's approach to enabling startups to thrive.
In Justin's view, one of the biggest challenges wasn't enabling startups to find capital to start, it was finding capital, resources, expertise (and larger markets) to enable them to scale from £10m to £100m in revenue.
The other challenge is ensuring that women entrepreneurs, who are often underrepresented, had the same opportunities to build and grow great companies in Canada, the UK and other markets.
He was curious about our experience and the British approach to solving some of these challenges.
We've worked with just over 200 start-ups, early stage and growth-stage companies all trying to make the leap to global businesses with hundreds of millions or billions in turnover.
Here are some of our thoughts on what's happening in the British market. (We'd love to know your thoughts, feel free to comment below).
The SEIS and EIS tax incentive programs have been incredibly effective in creating capital for early stage ventures. The abundance of angel investors, angel syndicates, and crowd funding platforms have played a direct role in the growth of seed and venture capital available to British companies from £400m in 2012, to nearly £5b in 2018.
The UK is increasingly a proving ground for Canadian and other companies, who choose to expand here to build up scale, before entering the US market. Businesses are attracted by an English speaking, affluent, densely populated country with similar business and legal environments.
There is an untapped opportunity for further collaboration between Canadian and UK companies, particularly in the tech space. There is more that both governments can do to facilitate this, particularly in a post-Brexit Britain.
There is a need for both governments to work together to develop a Canadian-UK replacement for CETA, the Canada-EU free-trade agreement that the UK will no longer participate in.
And with that, the Prime Minister was off to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the Queen.