SMEs in the UK need better digital infrastructure and technical talent to take off, according to industry experts.
Business leaders convened at a panel discussion in the heart of East London’s Tech City to hear about how better technology could enhance the burgeoning British SME sector.
Gerard Grech, Tech City CEO, Peter Kelly, MD of Virgin Media Business and Rhydian Lewis, CEO of peer-to-peer lender Ratesetterm, all called for better connectivity as vital. The lack of high quality broadband infrastructure in Tech City itself has been a contentious issue, with Virgin Media Business due to launch a new SME proposition there.
"Good connectivity is the lifeblood for small businesses and we know that it hasn’t been great; not just in Tech City but across the UK," said Peter Kelly.
"We wanted to shake things up in Tech City, where the Silicon Roundabout is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money, by providing start-ups and SMEs with the fast, bespoke connectivity they need. Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy and we’re proud to be the power behind improved technology in Tech City; the centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in UK PLC."
The panellists called for further investment in technology to solidify London’s credentials as, "the EU capital for technology and digital activity."
Rhydian Lewis blamed the infamous dotcom bubble in the late 1990s for the UK’s conservatism about investing in technology.
"The tech boom of the 90s has left a massive scar on the City. Americans, on the other hand, are all about invest, invest, invest. American venture capitalists are rampant. In the UK, money managers badly burned in the early 90s and are still far-too-hesitant to invest in early-stage businesses."
As Lewis suggests, recent months have seen a slew of American venture capital investments in UK technology start-ups.