British Venture Capital Association Parliamentary Reception 2014

Mark gave the following speech at this year’s British Venture Capital Association Parliamentary Reception in his capacity as the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Venture Capital and Private Equity:

Politicians of all stripes are keen to highlight the importance of regional growth in our economy, spreading the prosperity much talked about in London and the South East, across the rest of the UK. Much has been said about the UK economy being too reliant on the London, the City, and Financial Services. I think this view should be turned on its head. London and its international financial centre can play a key role in fostering growth in the whole country, not just its immediate vicinity. This is particularly so in the case of private equity and venture capital.

London remains the world’s leading financial centre and the most competitive place to raise a private equity or venture capital fund. The capital invested in these funds is in turn invested in business of all stripes, in every part of the UK. To better demonstrate this point, the BVCA has produced a tool that showcases all of these investments, divided up by parliamentary constituency, so every MP knows what private equity is contributing in terms of jobs and growth, to their local economy. For example, in my constituency, the Cities of London and Westminster, there are 182 businesses backed by private equity and venture capital. But I am just as keen to highlight what BVCA members are doing in the rest of the country so I would encourage all MPs to use the tool, and see what businesses are doing in their constituency.

But this should not just be a photo opportunity for MPs and businesses, but the start of a more substantive dialogue. Policymakers are still in search of better ways to build and grow local economies, whether it is improving the local skills base to attract more investment, or encourage more commercialisation of our world-beating intellectual property base to create more local opportunities for graduates, and stop the brain-drain to London and the South East. Private equity and venture capital can play a proactive role, providing thought-leadership on these policy challenges. And because they are investors in innovation, they can help create future-facing jobs that will connect all regions of the UK into the global economy. This is already happening in places like Manchester with huge volume of private equity and venture capital investment, a strong University spin-out operation and government investment in the Graphene facility. We need to replicate that success and build on existing activity in other parts of the UK.

I hope then that today’s gathering is the start of many new conversations between businesses backed by private equity and their local MPs. Business and finance has been on the defensive for too long and I think that highlighting their contribution in local economies will be key to its rehabilitation. By creating employment and connecting with local people, business can put beyond doubt that it remains a force for good in Britain.

May I finally thank the BVCA for all their general encouragement and in particular their foresight at ensuring this event did not clash with any crucial World Cup match. Speaking as someone forever proud to be half-German and knowing the EVCA is well represented here tonight may I conclude by saying this: “Deutschland vor, noch ein Tor!”