European deep tech scaleups who want to enter the British market should think twice, as it is not as easy as it sounds. Recently, Silicon Canals asked James Bamford, Business Developer at EIT Digital, Europe’s leading driver of digital innovations and accelerators for the tech startups, to share some main lessons for scaleups, expanding their business in the United Kingdom.
Scaleups should be optimistic about the future
“If you’re planning to scale up your business in the UK, the thought of Brexit might come into your mind. While Brexit negotiations are not complete yet, the businesses over here are quite optimistic about the whole issue. As the UK market has all the required building blocks for a successful deep tech company.”
“Firstly, the UK university research systems is quite strong in 5G telecom systems, quantum computing, and biotech, so there’s a talent pool in the market for the deep tech scaleups planning to expand over here.”
“Secondly, the UK market is based on meritocracy, and it has a great cultural mix in the deep tech sector, as well. So, if the scaleup works hard, the market is open to investments and there’s a fair chance of growth and success.”
“Thirdly, since, the language is English, there is a long-term benefit of expanding into other major English speaking parts of the world like the US, North America and even into Asia including South Asia, India or Australia.”
Develop the soft skills
“As far as the cultural differences are concerned, I would suggest that deep tech companies should keep a softer approach to selling their products over here rather than being aggressive. The scaleups should work on a more polite and formal advertising or marketing approach when selling their products in the UK market. That can definitely be successful up to a point.”
First impressions are crucial
“Keep the initial contact as brief as possible. For the good first impressions, introductory emails should not be longer than three to four sentences, giving a mental picture of how you can benefit the ecosystem. Rather, deep tech scaleups should try arranging initial meetings in person rather than on a phone call.”
“As the market is transforming, increasingly the dress code in the UK is now smart casual. Same goes for the deep tech scaleups.”
“When going for a technical meeting, it is normal to talk about the weather, sports, family, holiday for the first few minutes. People find it healthy to build relationships first and try to find things in common, before getting down to business.”
Know your finances
“While London is a costly city, the scaleup should prepare on their numbers well and make sure they’re strong enough to impress when meeting an investor in the UK for expansion. They should be prepared for the difficult questions and should be confident about their cash. The key to successful fundraising also lies in strong financial facts and superior presentation of the scaleup growth.”
The right business location
London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and has a lot of access to growth. The UK is leading in financing deep tech companies since 2013.
ARM semiconductors were brought to the UK by a Japanese company, similarly, most of the deep tech was brought to the UK by American, Chinese and Indian companies, so if you plan expansion strategies wisely, the country can offer you a lot.
Having said that, if you’re in deep tech, you would like to have an office near tech talent in universities like Leeds. Living in Leeds is 35 percent cheaper than the cost of living and working in London, even rental prices are half of what it is in London.
If a scaleup is specialized in quantum computing, I would recommend having a location near the tech hubs of quantum computing like Oxford and Bristol. But if a deep tech scaleup is merely opening a sales office, I would definitely recommend setting up in London, so as to search talents from all across the world. Meanwhile, all the other main university towns are well-connected by public transport to London and not more than a couple of hours away.
For more information, visit the official website of EIT Digital Accelerator.
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