Massive upsurge in overseas entrepreneurs in UK
One of the nastiest elements of the EU Referendum was the overt and insidious racism it stirred in many Brexit supporters in the homes and on the streets of Britain.
As an antidote to that poison, it is heartening to reveal that more than 170,000 non-UK nationals formed companies here in 2015 and that the number of overseas entrepreneurs setting up businesses in the UK has soared by 160 per cent since 2010.
More than 14,000 companies were formed by Polish nationals through Companies House last year according to startup specialist Made Simple.
The second highest number came from the Republic of Ireland, with just under 12,500, and close behind China, with more than 11,500.
Here’s the top 10: 1 Polish, 14,475; 2 Irish, 12,468; 3 Chinese 11,532; 4 Indian 10,438; 5 Romanian 10,280; 6 Italian; 8,885; 7 French 6,489; 8 American 6,291; 9 German, 5,543; 10 Pakistani 5,521.
It needs to be stressed that many of these businesses are smaller than micro and only a small percentage could be considered hard-nosed life science, technology or industrial enterprises with huge growth potential.
The point is that Britain remains open for business for talented, entrepreneurial people who are employing staff and contributing to the UK economy in a broad number of ways.
And contrary to the commonly held Brit view, these overseas entrepreneurs do not feel strangled by red tape. On the contrary, the reason they choose Britain is because they feel it is one of the less testing environments in which to start and grow a business.
Made Simple adds that last year the UK was ranked by the World Bank as the sixth easiest country in the world in which to start a business; Poland was number 25 and China number 84, for example.
One of the by-products of Brexit was to produce an excess of bile and an unhealthy outpouring of sentiment that perceived foreigners should go back where they came from. Pig ignorance is a terrible handicap in any walk of life.
Utilities companies, energy businesses, life science, technology and industrial enterprises of all shapes and sizes are increasingly overseas owned, especially in a hotspot such as Cambridge.
They create jobs and opportunity for the diligent but often disadvantaged. The Government should do more to educate the nation; tell people their water supplier is actually Spanish or Chinese because they have the deep pockets to invest in improved quality and infrastructure.
Explain that the biggest investors in science & technology in these parts are almost certainly American; possibly French or Japanese. Detail the vast numbers of Indian, US, Chinese and eastern European student entrepreneurs studying at universities such as Cambridge and then spinning out companies that put food on the table and clothes on people’s backs.
God forbid that the brain gain should ever be replaced by the curse of a brain drain – which was once the norm for Britain.
We should embrace and celebrate the diversity; the different cultures and management styles – the fresh business models and, not least, the investment capital – that these thousands of new foreign-owned UK businesses are bringing to Britain.
These businesses have energy and ambition – qualities that any economy needs to stimulate sustainable growth.