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Chris  Brown

Ready, Steady, Grow? - the future of high growth firms

Authors: Chris Brown Chris Brown

22 March 2011

The Work Foundation’s latest report - ‘Ready, Steady, Grow? How the government can support the development of more high growth firms’  - was launched yesterday (21 March) at the Palace of Westminster.

The report shows what the government can do to ensure the translation of a high growth firm agenda into tangible, pro-growth output. At the crux of these issues is removing the barriers to growth for promising start-ups and existing businesses.


The Work Foundation was delighted to welcome as guest speakers Adrian Bailey, MP for West Bromwich West and Chair of the BIS Select Committee and David Frost CBE, Director General for the British Chamber of Commerce. Both speakers are well regarded for their areas of expertise and proved ideal candidates to discuss the vast and complex nature of High Growth Firms (HGF).


Neil Lee, one of the authors of the report, provided a compelling summary which provoked a  lively debate among the guest speakers and later from the floor.


Adrian Bailey MP followed by emphasising the geographical and regional issues that surround HGFs including issues of determining who and where HGFs are and particularly the issues between the financial and business sectors- establishing a “closer management between the financial and business sectors could be beneficial” and remove one substantial barrier to business start ups.


This was followed by a response from David Frost. With his close links to the business sector, his contribution painted a more positive picture of the situation of business and HGFs within the UK currently, particularly that of manufacturing and export. However, he highlighted a number of aspects with regards to the structure of the economy and recruitment in particular, that are likely to further limit the push of HGFs if policy changes are not made.


David articulated the need to remove much of the bureaucracy and legislation that can often increase risk and inhibit businesses from recruiting and thus growing. Also, he argued that the current UK system does not promote the necessary skills and training compared to other European nations and thus a skill gap is ensuing.


Discussion from the room also provided lively debate and discussion – again, indicative of the importance and complexity of this topic but also the provocative nature of the report. Challenging questions were put to the panel varying from how HGFs can be identified; the regional disparity of HGFs; planning; the links between banks and business; and the integration of Local Enterprise Partnerships and driving businesses forward.


The main message was that while HGFs will be central to the growth of the UK economy there are many caveats and inherent issues with the current structure of the UK’s finance, business and employment agendas. ‘Ready, Steady, Grow?’ has however provided a strong set of recommendations that not only outline feasible and tangible policy recommendations but evidently spark debate around an issue that is key to future growth in the UK.