A Charter for Entrepreneurs

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1 A Charter for Entrepreneurs March 2011 Dr Julian Huppert MP & Matthew Cleevely Page 1 of 18

2 Cambridge s Entrepreneurship Charter The entrepreneurship story runs through the heart of Cambridge. Cambridge s cluster draws in 24% of all UK venture capital investments, and creates world leading billion-pound companies. The area s ecosystem is a vibrant mix of businesses, universities, and serial entrepreneurs that together make Cambridge one of the most exciting places to be an entrepreneur in the world. The creation of new jobs in the private sector is central to the Coalition s plan to reduce the deficit. From 2002 to 2008, 6% of UK companies created over half of all new jobs (1.3m new jobs). These 6% were rapidly growing firms driven by innovation, and amongst them, new firms created one fifth of this new job growth. The urgent question for the UK Government is this: how can policy encourage new, high-growth companies and create the new jobs upon which economic recovery is dependent? Our answer is entrepreneurship - the people-driven process behind these innovative companies. Entrepreneurs have the capacity and drive to deliver growth for their companies and the economy in the long run. Entrepreneurs create new, high growth businesses and industries and compete with existing technologies, business and practices delivering dynamic competition, new products and services and greater long-term growth for the economy. This is why supporting entrepreneurship is different from supporting business; policies that merely support businesses cannot deliver the growth that can be delivered by an entrepreneurial environment. We want to encourage entrepreneurs to create new companies with the ambition to pursue high growth and high job creation strategies, and most importantly, to succeed. In building one of the largest technology clusters in Europe, entrepreneurs and academics in Cambridge have built up a vast wealth of experience and expertise. This experience can be used to create policy that encourages entrepreneurs both in Cambridge and across the UK. The purpose of this document is to draw on this experience to set out how government both central and local and public policy can help the entrepreneurs of Cambridge and the UK to build the leading institutions of the 21 st century. Although the evidence is from Cambridge, we anticipate that many of the same lessons and principles will apply to other areas of the UK. Method and Timeline Over the last eight months, Julian Huppert MP for Cambridge and Matthew Cleevely a local entrepreneurship PhD student have consulted with entrepreneurs and academics in Cambridge through interviews and open forums. Page 2 of 18

3 We have been asking the question; what can government do to encourage entrepreneurship? In February 2011, we published a draft of this document as a consultation paper. We received 20 written responses and presented it for feedback at two Cambridge events attended by over 200 people. This document is the culmination of our research. It represents the current opinions of Cambridge entrepreneurs and academics, on how the government can best encourage entrepreneurship. The authors may be contacted at Starting Points Government cannot itself deliver successful entrepreneurship. It should however take an enabling stance, and, as Andy Richards points out, seek in all sectors and regions to provide a low risk environment in which the individual can take high risks and pursue the extraordinary. This environment should enable the creation of world leading organizations at the global forefront of science, technology, and the creative sector. The challenge for Cambridge s business community is to attract new skills and people, and to continue building bigger and better successes. The role of government is to facilitate this, and it can learn from Cambridge s experience and where applicable take those lessons to the rest of the UK. We propose the following six goals as overall aims of Government in supporting and enabling entrepreneurship for Cambridge and the UK. We have identified specific policies that are attached to each of these goals. Government should: 1. Provide low risk environments for individuals to repeatedly do high risk things 2. Ensure the appropriate capital is available at every point in the growth of a company 3. Ensure the appropriate skills are available at every point in the growth of a company 4. Be a responsive and intelligent partner of business and new technologies 5. Develop infrastructure alongside regional growth and in keeping with the character of Cambridge 6. Encourage people to become entrepreneurs Page 3 of 18

4 1. Provide low risk environments for individuals to repeatedly do high-risk things Entrepreneurship requires individuals to take great risks; the majority of new businesses fail. It is only through perseverance and continued risk-taking that individuals create growth businesses. UK plc benefits overall from the successful risk taking of entrepreneurs and their investors. Individually, entrepreneurs take significant personal risks and can bear a large cost in the case of failure. We consider one of the roles of government to be to support and reduce the risks that entrepreneurs are individually exposed to, to maximize the gains from their productive activity. 1.1 Tax incentives for entrepreneurs: EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) The scope of EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) should be extended to cover loans to and preferred shares in small businesses, investment programmes and funds. The scope of EIS should also be restricted to exclude all listed companies. The cap on EIS should be raised and the time over which EIS is applicable should be broadened. Entrepreneurs relief (the EMI, Entrepreneurs Management Incentive) should be extended to cover a greater breadth of entrepreneurs. EIS which provides income tax relief against EIS-able investments - is a great tool to provide tax incentives for entrepreneurs to reinvest in new ventures. The expertise that investors who use EIS have built up means that the money they provide carries with it knowledge that will help new businesses grow. We believe EIS should be extended to cover a wider range of methods in which money is invested in new businesses. It should apply over longer time frames and be set against capital gains and income tax. Additionally, funds targeting small new businesses should be EIS-able. An entrepreneur s time can be scarce and the UK angel investor base is fragmented. Funds that aggregate angel investments and target new, potentially high growth companies in the same way as angel investors should be able to provide its investors with EIS relief. This also requires EIS not to be applicable to firms that have already made exits in markets such as AIM as these are not the high growth, high risk targets for EIS. We expect such EIS-able funds to refocus the skills and expertise involved in investment towards smaller scale, new, high-risk businesses. We discuss how the government might contribute to these funds in section 2.1. Page 4 of 18

5 1.1.1 Convertible loans and preference shares should fall under EIS. These are prevalent tools in Cambridge, and are more suited to dealing with uncertainty surrounding a new venture EIS tax relief should be applied over a rolling period of 5-7 years. This means the relief can be spread over a period that reflects its payoff and allows for losses and gains within that period EIS should give capital as well as income relief. Many serial entrepreneurs net income derives from capital disposals as opposed to income. EIS should reflect this Funds should be able to carry EIS relief for their investors proportional to the amount invested by the fund in companies that match the EIS criteria The EIS criteria should exclude companies that are listed on any capital markets such as AIM and PLUS. 1.2 Tax breaks to entrepreneurs: EMI (Enterprise Management Incentive) Taper relief for entrepreneurs should be reintroduced irrespective of the scale of returns (currently capped at 5m). Some form of EMI relief should also cover those who invest time in the company, but less than the current 75% required to qualify for EMI. It is unrealistic to expect serial entrepreneurs to spend that much time in a single company, but their presence and work is invaluable. The gains made through entrepreneurship and its creation of new wealth is materially different from capital gains on standard equity investment. The government should allow an appropriate reward that reflects the risk taken by entrepreneurs, the wider returns to the UK of high growth companies, and the breadth of involvement that entrepreneurs may have in these companies The cap on taper relief should be scrapped The breadth of EMI should be expanded to cover a wider range of participants in the firm. Page 5 of 18

6 1.3 SFLGS (EFG) The Small Firm Loan Guarantee Scheme (Enterprise Finance Guarantee) Schemes like the EFG in theory reduce the risk faced by banks in lending to entrepreneurs, and lower the security required by entrepreneurs themselves thus raising the supply of capital to entrepreneurs. Starting a business needs to be a reduced risk occupation. Entrepreneurs often face the choice between a guaranteed wage and a uncertain return from a new business. Government has little role in reducing business risk. However, it should reduce the personal risk faced by entrepreneurs thus enabling decisions to be based purely on business risks. Entrepreneurs should not have to provide their home as security. Banks do not seem to be taking advantage of the security provided for them by the EFG by seeking either to reduce the security they require from entrepreneurs, or increase the volume of lending. We believe that the government should use the EFG to reduce the exposure of entrepreneurs to such risks and prevent banks from using assets such as entrepreneurs homes as the default option for security EFG should protect entrepreneurs from losing their personal assets 1.4 Certainty, communication and information Certainty and continuity can be the difference between the success and failure of a new enterprise, and uncertain environments discourage investment. Over the last 25 years, government projects to support businesses have had a life expectancy of 2 years and 7 months. This is too short a time horizon for business planning and for risk-taking entrepreneurs and investors. While government cannot remove business risk, it is incumbent upon it not to increase uncertainty and risk, but to provide a stable and supportive environment. In Cambridge, the removal of the RDAs and uncertainty surrounding the role of LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) provides a tougher environment for new businesses in an already tough economy. This uncertainty is increased by the clear frustration that entrepreneurs in Cambridge have when they try to talk to government. This is made worse because the people who make a difference to small business policy often move. Both the frequency of the political cycle and the movement of staff within government departments create uncertain feedback and communications between small, potentially high growth businesses and government. Page 6 of 18

7 Government needs to provide a small number of clear, permanent channels for SMEs and entrepreneurs to interact and provide input and feedback into the policy formation process. One such channel could be the entrepreneurs forum (run by NACUE), where high profile entrepreneurs meet four times a year to discuss issues. Conversely such channels should provide simple clear information on current and future changes to entrepreneurship and related policy. One change we would like see is more business angel members on the TSB s board Provide freely available data on all government schemes to promote business and changes to them Establish permanent communications channels for dialogue with SMEs and entrepreneurs Aggressively simplify small business support Provide continuity by creating policies that are flexible enough to be adapted over time through dialogue, rather than be replaced. 1.5 Employment Legislation Employment legislation rightly protects maternity and paternity, and prevents against discrimination from employers. For small, growing businesses this presents a risk, as a single staff member's absence in a small company can significantly affect its operational capability. We believe the government should ensure that insurance exists for small businesses to cover this risk. Such a scheme should pay out in the event of one of their employees taking maternity or paternity leave, and cover a proportion of their salary during the leave of absence Create an insurance scheme that covers maternity and paternity leave for new businesses Page 7 of 18

8 2. Ensure the appropriate capital is available at every point in the growth of a company Having the right inputs at every stage of a company s growth is essential if Cambridge wants to build the next wave of international companies. 2.1 Funding: Late Stage Investment There is a gap in the UK funding escalator for larger growth organizations. This means that whilst the UK is quite good at producing companies with new ideas, we do not have a capital infrastructure to help them to achieve rapid, high growth. We believe the government should help to close this gap by encouraging VC investment specifically targeted at the m and 5-20m deals, which the UK currently is short of. Existing attempts to set up such funds have resulted in a migration to higher value and lower risk investments. Careful consideration is required to ensure this does not happen. The complexity of evaluating how these funds could be implemented and the associated costs puts firm recommendations beyond this report. Instead we recommend that the government launch an investigation into how this gap should be filled with the aim of putting UK investments in these brackets on a par with those in California. Such an investigation should include consideration of: Innovation bonds Where the government provides bonds that back a venture fund, providing a yearly payoff, allowing the fund to operate with the fixed time horizon of 5-7 years. A new UK wide 3i-like VC Funded by a levy on the banks or through direct government investment. Changes in the regulatory environment to encourage greater risk taking on smaller investments in the banking sector Launch a review to investigate and address the UK s investment gap 2.2 Funding: Early stage In the past, government has encouraged entrepreneurs to try new ideas and business strategies by providing diverse small funds (e.g. for proof of market). We believe this is an effective way to encourage entrepreneurs to explore and develop their ideas. In addition to large-scale funding, we want to set up a new scheme to provide small-scale finance across a broad spectrum of investment activity; ranging from proof-of-concept to seed and venture finance and mentoring networks, focused Page 8 of 18

9 at high-growth, high risk and social enterprises and ideas and the provision of expertise. Such schemes would be locally administered, as a high volume of smaller cases with local knowledge and expertise would be key to ensuring funds provided value for money. Schemes matching the target criteria would be EIS-able and additionally be provided with a degree of matched funding. The criteria for matched funding would be broad enough to allow innovation at the target and administrative level, and restrictive enough to ensure focus on high-risk, high-growth and social enterprises. The degree to which these schemes meet their goals would determine the level of matched funding they receive (measured over several years). Schemes such as the Cambridge Boring Bank, Seed Camp or other angel and investment groups could play a role in administering such grants. Some of this money could be awarded as prizes in locally held enterprise competitions or be used to fund entrepreneurship training or events Create a framework for small-scale, highly experimental, locally administered enterprise funds to receive matched government funding Identify and approach local networks to administer small entrepreneurship prizes 3. Ensure the appropriate skills are available at every stage in the growth of a company We want to ensure that brilliant entrepreneurs and skilled individuals work in the UK. We want the UK to have highly skilled individuals employed across all sectors to provide new businesses with the skilled resources that they need to grow. This requires the UK to have access to the best entrepreneurs, skilled individuals and training. There are clear gaps in the UK s current capabilities and addressing these will take many years. For entrepreneurs and growing businesses not to be hindered by these gaps, it is essential that they are able to employ the best people at the moment by hiring from abroad. 3.1 Education: There are worries amongst some entrepreneurs that the current education system does not provide enough people with the right mindset or skills for new Page 9 of 18

10 world leading businesses. Education also provides an opportunity to teach the basic skills necessary for starting and managing a business. The education system should provide basic training in the skills necessary to create, grow and manage a business. These should go beyond basic provision of courses in accounting and business creation. Skills that make good entrepreneurs are diverse; from questioning authority and assumptions about existing practices to managing cash flow and business risks. Courses should also be available for adults to ensure everyone is capable of seizing opportunities in business and social entrepreneurship if and when they present themselves. The skills that graduates and school leavers have in the UK may not be suited to current needs of businesses. Currently, for example, there is a gap in the number of skilled people with computer science and product marketing backgrounds from the UK. This is an especially acute problem in Cambridge, as these skills are often needed for achieving high growth enterprises based on strong technology, and this is an area where this skills gap is particularly prevalent. Specific policies: Subsidies to universities and leading courses for addressing gaps in the UKs competences. For example marketing, computer programming, STEM, and product development An entrepreneurship review of UK education to look for ways to include entrepreneurship skills development in the national curriculum. This should be done in conjunction with entrepreneurial bodies such as NACUE (National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs), and the WEF, who have already carried out extensive research in these areas. 3.2 Immigration: Visas for highly skilled individuals such as computer programmers, doctors or entrepreneurs should be limited by the demand for them in the country and not by an arbitrary cap. The government can increase employment by encouraging entrepreneurs, seeking to create new ventures or skilled people for which there are shortages in the UK, to come to the UK and participate in our economy. New businesses that operate at the forefront of their sector require the best in the world in order to compete. Often this means that one or two people are essential in the success of an organization that employs tens or hundreds. These are not the entrepreneurs who started the businesses, but they are the people upon whom the success of the businesses and many UK jobs may depend. Entrepreneurs who have secured funding for new ventures should not be subject to a cap. The current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is focused on the financial assets Page 10 of 18

11 available for the entrepreneur, and so prevents those with valuable IP who may collaborate with an English funder. A system of exemption from the cap should also exist for skilled individuals, and students. We believe there should be a mechanism for high-growth entrepreneurial companies to identify key people in the security that visas would be available for them No immigration cap for entrepreneurs with funding from the UK New visas similar to the US Treaty Trader visa to allow skilled professionals to enter and work in the UK. 3.3 University The additional up-front cost of attending university is worrying as it may discourage individuals from poorer backgrounds from attending institutions that would give them the tools to become or aid entrepreneurs. Existing entrepreneurs in Cambridge are concerned with the quality of graduates and the subjects they choose, not the percentage of people who go to university. Assuming the current funding structure goes ahead it presents an opportunity for government to directly subsidise the up-front cost of STEM courses, and other courses that would benefit entrepreneurial activity. This subsidy for courses would encourage students to undertake university training in such courses Offer government grants and subsidies for courses in STEM and other appropriate courses 4. Be a responsive and intelligent partner of business and new technologies New businesses need customers, and early stage customers are the best source of revenue for startups. Government and industry need to be encouraged to participate with young and small firms. At a local level this means a more entrepreneurial and interactive approach to problem solving. In order to match the needs of entrepreneurs and business, local government needs to be responsive and provide a simple interface between all the elements of local government and planning. Page 11 of 18

12 4.1 Government Procurement Much has been written about the role of government procurement in the support of innovation and entrepreneurship. Most recently, David Connell and Jocelyn Probert s report gives an excellent overview of the innovative activity in Cambridge and the policies that can be used to stimulate their type of activity. We fully support their recommendations: The government should provide additional funding to the TSB (Technology Strategy Board) to match-fund departmental SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative), and SBRI should be promoted at the national, regional and local level. An appropriate body such as NESTA should carry out independent reviews of the progress of the SBRI. Additionally government should provide tough incentives for departments to meet a 25% target of procurement expenditure being spent with SMEs. Data on this procurement, such as size of businesses and type of expenditures should be collected and open to the public. Such incentives could be through a hard cap (at 25%) or through softer mechanisms such as incremental departmental charges for levels of deviation from the target. The first step of this is to require the data on procurement to be gathered, published and made publically accessible Additional funding to the TSB Expand resources to SBRI and increase breadth Publish data on departments and department-contractors spend with small businesses Page 12 of 18

13 4.2 Simplify and reduce the Tax and Regulation burden a. A reduction in employment tax Pre-revenue and loss making small enterprises should be exempt or face a significant reduction in the employment tax (employers national insurance contribution) rate. The start up cost for new businesses is dominated by staffing costs. This earnings tax is payable by the company irrespective of profits and is 12.8% of the wage. During tough economic times, managing cash flow is essential and whilst corporation and other taxes are not payable when making a loss, this tax is unavoidable. We believe this is a great way to decrease the costs of employment and hence increase the effectiveness of investment in entrepreneurs. The loss in revenue from exempting loss-making small firms could be offset by a small increase in the corporate tax rate Make employment tax off-settable against losses by small firms, with a fiscally neutral package based on increasing other taxes. b. Create a competitive banking industry that supports enterprise The banking industry has in recent years systematically let small and enterprising businesses down. This must change. Small-scale loans are the lifeblood of small businesses and in difficult times keep them afloat. We believe that a competitive banking sector at the local level is the best way of ensuring the access to finance that small business need. For this to happen, the way in which banks currently compete needs to change. We fully support the formation of a Cambridge bank, and call for a comprehensive independent review of the retail-banking sector, with the aim of re-establishing higher volumes of loans between small and start-up businesses. Regulation of small banks might be lighter, dependent on their risk and their impact of failure on the economy. We anticipate that the risk to the national economy of smaller, more local banks would be much lower Comprehensive independent review of retail banking sector and its regulation 4.3 Small business support, grants & simplification Page 13 of 18

14 The current environment provides the perfect opportunity to redesign the way in which businesses receive support from government. The support structures for entrepreneurs should be as simple as possible: entrepreneurs time is a valuable resource, and time that is spent navigating the varying forms of grants and funding sources is a significant and unnecessary waste. For example, the cost of getting R&D tax credits is not proportional to the financial returns. For smaller businesses, the opportunity cost of applying for tax credits is too great, with the time burden too high for the payback. The R&D tax credit system should allow for small businesses applying for tax credits concerning amounts below 50k to be a much-simplified process of box ticking as opposed to the existing system. We believe that all active sources of funds and support for small businesses and entrepreneurs (local, national and EU level) should be listed by a single service in a single place alongside the steps necessary to get them A simplified process for R&D tax credits for amounts less than 50k A simple and comprehensive up to date list of all sources of funding currently available to UK businesses 5. Develop infrastructure alongside regional growth and in keeping with the character of Cambridge The success of the Cambridge phenomena has lead to a similar increase in the demand for housing, and put considerable stain on Cambridge s transport infrastructure. These in turn put a cost on new ventures; entrepreneurs need to survive, and the cost of housing and transport are a major cost and hence risk in early stage companies. The lag of Cambridge s planning relative to the success of its businesses should be addressed. Housing and sustainable transportation infrastructure should become urgent and ongoing priorities. The manner in which this is done needs to be in keeping with Cambridge. At a national level, the UK needs greater investment in transportation infrastructure, and broadband the lifeblood of high-tech and media businesses. One of Cambridge s biggest assets is its environment and character. It is an extremely desirable place to live and work, and alumni remember it fondly when Page 14 of 18

15 they leave. This character is a strategic asset of Cambridge, and one that needs to be protected Cambridge s local character should be preserved Greater investment in the UK s transportation infrastructure Rapid roll out of Fiber networks especially in high tech areas 6. Encourage people to become entrepreneurs Entrepreneurship should be recognized as a valued profession, and should be encouraged as a career option. By exposure to successful entrepreneurs, those with ideas or ambition may be inspired to take the entrepreneurial step. This is not just about encouraging people to start businesses. It is about providing them with the skills, ambition and contacts to create their own highgrowth enterprises. 6.1 Champions Together with local councils the government should identify active entrepreneurs those who re-invest time and money into starting new businesses and helping new entrepreneurs and raise their profile through meetings with ministers, civic receptions and other events. A network of champions would both increase the perceived value in becoming an entrepreneur and create a new channel for feedback of entrepreneurs into government thinking. This network should be diverse, and reflect the breadth of entrepreneurial activity in the UK. Some sections of the community such as women and BME groups are currently less likely to become entrepreneurs. Specific support targeting these groups such as those run by Enterprising Women can help to encourage them to participate and consider entrepreneurship as a profession Engage with entrepreneurs at a central and local government level Create a role for national champions in entrepreneurship and government Page 15 of 18

16 A Charter for Entrepreneurs: Policies Convertible loans and preference shares should fall under EIS. These are prevalent tools in Cambridge, and are more suited to dealing with uncertainty surrounding a new venture EIS tax relief should be applied over a rolling period of 5-7 years. This means the relief can be spread over a period that reflects its payoff and allows for losses and gains within that period EIS should give capital as well as income relief. Many serial entrepreneurs net income derives from capital disposals as opposed to income. EIS should reflect this Funds should be able to carry EIS relief for their investors proportional to the amount invested by the fund in companies that match the EIS criteria The EIS criteria should exclude companies that are listed on any capital markets such as AIM and PLUS The cap on taper relief should be scrapped The breadth of EMI should be expanded to cover a wider range of participants in the firm EFG should protect entrepreneurs from losing their personal assets Provide freely available data on all government schemes to promote business and changes to them Establish permanent communications channels for dialogue with SMEs and entrepreneurs Aggressively simplify small business support Provide continuity by creating policies that are flexible enough to be adapted over time through dialogue, rather than be replaced Create an insurance scheme that covers maternity and paternity leave for new businesses Launch a review to investigate and address the UK s investment gap Create a framework for small-scale, highly experimental, locally administered enterprise funds to receive matched government funding Page 16 of 18

17 2.2.2 Identify and approach local networks to administer small entrepreneurship prizes Subsidies to universities and leading courses for addressing gaps in the UKs competences. For example marketing, computer programming, STEM, and product development An entrepreneurship review of UK education to look for ways to include entrepreneurship skills development in the national curriculum. This should be done in conjunction with entrepreneurial bodies such as NACUE (National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs), and the WEF, who have already carried out extensive research in these areas No immigration cap for entrepreneurs with funding from the UK New visas similar to the US Treaty Trader visa to allow skilled professionals to enter and work in the UK Offer government grants and subsidies for courses in STEM and other appropriate courses Additional funding to the TSB Expand resources to SBRI and increase breadth Publish data on departments and department-contractors spend with small businesses Make employment tax off-settable against losses by small firms, with a fiscally neutral package based on increasing other taxes Comprehensive independent review of retail banking sector and its regulation A simplified process for R&D tax credits for amounts less than 50k A simple and comprehensive up to date list of all sources of funding currently available to UK businesses Cambridge s local character should be preserved Greater investment in the UK s transportation infrastructure Rapid roll out of Fiber networks especially in high tech areas Engage with entrepreneurs at a central and local government level Page 17 of 18

18 6.1.2 Create a role for national champions in entrepreneurship and government Thanks We would like to thank the following: The 50 or so people we have met with for their time, ideas and feedback, Ernst and Young and the Cambridge Network for their events which have helped shape this charter, and other entrepreneurs and residents of Cambridge who have provided their feedback and input into this project. Page 18 of 18

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