The Economist wonders why there are few high-impact entrepreneurs in Britain:
Britain has no digital equivalent of the 18th-century industrial innovators who turned technology into commercial leadership. Its more recent prowess in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology has not been emulated in the digital sphere. David Cameron’s government should ponder this failure and address the reasons for it. Luck is one of them, but so are national and European regulations and a tepid climate for entrepreneurs.
Later, the Economist gets more specific:
Individual ideas and people are the key, obviously, but there are three problems with Britain’s tech ecology that its government could ameliorate. One is the absence of a market as big and homogeneous as American tech firms enjoy. Another is a relative shortage of capital for start-ups and growing firms. The third is the lack of entrepreneurs who combine technological expertise, business acumen and the sort of balls that, in 2006, reputedly let Mark Zuckerberg turn down Yahoo!’s offer of $1 billion for Facebook.
If policy makers would like more detail, they should look at the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, where the United Kingdom ranked #14 globally, behind Finland and ahead of Singapore. While this might seem like a strong showing, as the Economist points out, a country with such as strong commercial and global history might conceivably score higher.
Unfortunately, the United Kingdom’s worst rank (#21) is on the Aspirational Sub-index — which is exactly the part of the index that highlights the efforts of new start-ups, those proposing new products with new cutting edge technologies, and those expecting high growth. This is where innovation occurs.
For example, on the Aspiration Sub-Index component — New Product, the UK scores a .42 — by way of comparison, the U.S. scores (.59), Israel (.95), and Denmark (.75).
There are plenty of other areas, such as Risk Capital, Internationalization, and use of New Technology on the Aspirational Sub-index where UK policy makers and leaders should look for clues as to why there are few British Bill Gates.