Growing innovative start-ups

7 04 2008

The news that the number of start-up businesses in the UK has reached the highest level since records began 20 years ago is striking given the increasingly difficult trading conditions during the second half of last year. Research from Barclays indicates that a record 471,500 new businesses opened their doors in 2007, the highest annual volume since Barclays started tracking the market in 1988. This is an increase of 3% on 2006 (457,200). Within Scotland an 11% increase is reported in the number of new businesses started in 2007 – corporate services firm Oswalds note that 21,256 new companies were formed last year.

Such a trend requires considered and expert analysis and NESTA’s Policy & Research Unit (NPRU) is launching a new and timely research strand on growing innovative firms. The aim of this research is to investigate the path that growing firms follow; their impact on the economy; the barriers that they face; and the role of policy in helping to overcome them. NESTA is currently inviting tenders from researchers interested in pursuing work in this area (Invitation to Tender: Growing innovative firms), with a closing date for applications of 24 April 2008.

Meanwhile a recent Kauffman Foundation publication, Study of early years of start-ups, provides context from the US experience. This is the largest longitudinal study of new businesses ever conducted, following nearly 5,000 businesses founded in 2004 and tracking them over their early years of operation. The aim is to understand the characteristics of new business formation and sustainability with the intention of informing public policy to encourage entrepreneurial businesses.

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