Innovators: Your country needs you!

Cliff Dennett, Head of Business Development, Innovation Birmingham

As we attempt to understand the ramifications of Brexit, entrepreneurship is needed more than ever. Faced with FUD - fear, uncertainly and doubt - people and institutions freeze. The call already is to ‘keep calm’, not to ‘rush into anything’ and to ‘stay put.’ In the next couple of years at least, the dominant mind-set is likely to be caution based on uncertainty.

Against this ‘new normal’, entrepreneurs need to do what they’re best at; find the angles, reveal the opportunities, deliver their business plans in whatever way they can and remain agile. The Hindi/Punjabi word ‘Jugaad’ refers to frugal innovation by making the best of what you have and using current resources in simple and surprising ways to solve difficult problems. There are very big problems to solve now and we have a global stage on which to solve them. As money flows, market dynamics and relationships will undergo seismic shifts over the coming months and years and it will be up to the innovators, die-hards, creators, makers and shakers to deliver the future.

Entrepreneurs might shift market focus from Europe to Asia, funding plans from London to Berlin or software development from Eastern Europe to India. They might decide to change very little, believing that the UK will retain its position as one of the top three leading locations for technology start-ups and access to EU markets for customers, talent and finance will continue. Whatever you think may happen, the important thing is to help them to keep moving forward. Energy and momentum will create opportunity.

Whatever our start-up community decides to do, its natural entrepreneurial optimism has a role in helping to infect the disaffected parts of our population with hope. Much of the country will need continued shots of optimism as this new world unfolds and some innovative entrepreneurial growth stories will help determine how this country will positively contribute to the rest of the world. For many, Brexit means destruction to institutions, relationships and ways of working together - whether for good or for bad. Innovation on the other hand is inherently a creative act and is desperately needed to balance these destructive forces.

The statistics indicate that much of the young didn’t want Brexit and it is from this group that the next crop of innovators will eventually rise. It is incumbent upon all of us who currently support entrepreneurship and innovation to do our part in encouraging entrepreneurial aspiration among the disenfranchised and continue to make the very best of what we have.