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Barclays Group Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, officially opened the new Manchester Escalator on Friday 28 November, a highlight of a recent series of events in which Barclays has facilitated conversations on entrepreneurship across the UK.

The Manchester Escalator is the second such partnership between Barclays and Central Working and follows the success of the London Escalator in Whitechapel. Both Escalators provide collaborative spaces and support aimed at inspiring and nurturing entrepreneurs and start-ups.

VIDEO: Manchester Escalator Overview

The Manchester Escalator has been part-funded by the Barclays Social Innovation Facility (SIF), which supports market-based solutions that contribute to sustainable economic growth and societal progress.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the launch event to discuss whether Manchester can become the UK’s capital of enterprise, Antony said that geographies need to play to their strengths. He also urged start-ups to take advantage of the support offered by large organisations: “Manchester is already a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, driving significant investment, productivity and growth, and it’s exciting that Barclays can be part of this. We want to back the businesses of tomorrow and help ambitious entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.”

Voices from across the UK

Over the past two months similar discussions have taken place in Cambridge, Bristol, London and Newcastle.

Manchester is already a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, driving significant investment, productivity and growth, and it’s exciting that Barclays can be part of this. We want to back the businesses of tomorrow and help ambitious entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.
Antony Jenkins, Barclays Group Chief Executive

Tom New, an entrepreneur on the panel in Manchester, echoed the thoughts of many across the UK when he commented on the definition of an entrepreneur: “Enterprise is a very big term. You open a fish and chip shop and suddenly you’re an entrepreneur.”

In the inaugural Barclays Debate held last week, we asked panellists Jamal Edwards, founder of SB.TV; Russell Hall, co-founder of Hailo; Roksanda Ilincic, fashion designer; Doug Richard, founder of the School for Startups, and Greg Davies, Barclays Head of Behavioural Finance whether entrepreneurial spirit is innate or can be taught, and looked at what conditions are needed to enable UK entrepreneurship to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market.

It was clear from the panellists’ life stories that academic accomplishment doesn’t necessarily determine entrepreneurial success. Around the room there were many who challenged the ability of the education system to nurture creativity and encourage entrepreneurship. The panellists all shared the belief that the main motivation behind their success was not money, but the passion and drive that comes from wanting to solve a problem or create something new, and the importance of having the support of family and friends as well as financial backers.  

Infrastructure

While poor internet infrastructure appears to have improved to the point that it is no longer a barrier to entrepreneurs, discussions outside of London indicate that physical infrastructure remains an issue.

Julia Hobsbawm, a specialist in the ‘soft skill’ of networking says: “With technology we fantasise sometimes that we don’t need to go anywhere.” Being in the same physical space with funders, client and partners is still critical for success, yet the physical infrastructure outside of the capital does not always support this. 

Panellists in Cambridge cited poor road networks and city planning as a barrier while in Newcastle, the lack of direct rail and air access is hindering the progress and development of start-ups and small businesses. 

VIDEO: Newcastle Round Table

Connecting the dots

Across the UK, entrepreneurs agreed that the necessary funding, education and guidance does in fact exist but that knowing how to access these remains problematic. An audience member at the Bristol discussion put it to the panel that one of the most frustrating things for entrepreneurs, if you’ve got a great idea, is not being able to speak to the thought leaders in large businesses. It’s not enough that the investors and support structures exist; entrepreneurs and start-ups need to be mentored in how to access these.

Providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills, support and resources they need to build their ideas into successful businesses is essential to future, sustained economic growth and prosperity, and Barclays is committed to working with stakeholders across the board to help shape the optimum environment for entrepreneurs to establish and thrive. 

Learn about our entrepreneur discussions in Bristol and CambridgeLearn about our Entrepreneur discussions in Bristol and Cambridge
Watch a video from the Barclays Debate in LondonWatch a video from the Barclays Debate in London
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