From building global Britain to becoming a science and tech superpower, the government has big and bold ambitions for the UK’s innovation economy. Yet investors and the high growth companies that are so critical in meeting these ambitions have been voting with their feet; of the small number of listings that have continued to take place this year, the majority have been outside the UK.
Recent developments such as the Mansion House Reforms, formalised by the Chancellor last month, could unleash a further cash injection for high-growth companies within fintech and life sciences – both of which are often seen as the bedrock of the UK’s emerging growth ambitions. With mounting pressure from leaders in these sectors for better access to later stage funding, initial reports indicate that this long-awaited reform has been largely welcomed by the industry.
But the journey has only just begun and there is a critical role that communications needs to play in order to reaffirm this decision and continue building confidence in the industry.
The first is that the UK’s innovation economy must get better at communicating its impact to mass audiences. After all, it is the public who, according to the government, could see an increase in their pension pot by 12% over the course of their career on the back of the Mansion House Reforms. It’s crucial that everyone can understand the value and potential of this sector.
Whether you’re in the back end of banking, or running deep machine learning algorithms for life sciences, there must be a part of your storytelling which focuses on the why and the benefit to people’s lives. Whether that’s reducing patient waiting lists, creating personalised medicines, or making account switches seamless.
In support of that is the need to showcase the success stories which demonstrate progress and return on investment. The UK may not be as bullish and braggish as the US in terms of heralding its successes and is only at the start of its new-found acceptance of more expansive dual-class shares that is common-place amongst US firms. But perhaps this attitude towards highlighting success is just one of the lessons from our American counterparts that we can learn as to how to champion the sectors we are investing in.
How to achieve that balance is exactly what good comms storytelling does – it reflects the ambitions of the brand, without talking in sector specific jargon and alienating audiences.
While the Mansion House Reforms could provide a pot of £50 billion for high growth businesses, spread too thinly, it will have very little impact on the 30,000+ high growth companies battling for investment right now in the UK. Investors will pick their winners and double down on them. So being vocal to the investor community about success stories, growth and product strategy, market fit, value proposition and – therefore – why they should invest in you, is more important than ever to lock in additional, meaningful investment, before it’s gone.
The red thread is (you guessed it) having a clear story. As a recent investor recently shared with us: “I hear from a lot of high growth tech companies and the technology behind their offering is often complex with a lot of data. There are times when I have come out of a pitch and I am no clearer on what the company does.”
“Life science software companies, for example, can have complex offerings for multiple industries – chemicals, pharma, biotech and so on. The leadership team must tell a clear, succinct, and engaging story around what their product does for each audience, how it differentiates from its closest peers and how it will (or already is) delivering momentum and growth.”
Finally, the success of life sciences, fintech and other high growth industries is reliant on having access to the best talent. And while the UK is home to many world-leading universities (and the science and tech companies that spin out of them), competition for the talent is tough. According to research from Sequoia Capital, London has almost 10% of talent share across Europe for software engineers, compared to between 1% and 3% for many other cities on the continent. But more than half of start-ups across Europe have remote teams – so holding onto the talent pool in the UK is essential.
Comms professionals across high growth brands can play a key role in drumming up excitement around this injection of capital coming into this sector to attract that talent. At an organisation level, stories should highlight goals, ambitions, breakthroughs and more, and where the additional funding can help achieve these.
Supporting that is the need to differentiate how their technology is different, credible, and what makes them special. For example, every month there seems to be a new company announcing how it will be using AI for drug discovery – but not so many who articulate the mission, purpose, culture and technology in a way that makes them look unique. From cross border payments to lab automation and cell manufacturing, we’ve worked with a number of brands to ensure that, however complex their proposition, it’s simple to understand for an outside audience. For more targeted audiences (such as potential employees), there will always be a time and a place for deeper technical storytelling that mirrors innovative storytelling, to bring in the best developers and builds on the platform you have created.
The UK is home to many of the world’s most valuable startup and scaleup companies, but competition is fierce from Europe and beyond. Effective communication with clear, accessible, and engaging storytelling can be the linchpin that helps drive the success of the innovation economy. By communicating the value and potential of these industries to the public and investors alike, and by showcasing successes while differentiating from competitors, we can help the UK bolster its position as a global leader in science and technology and create a sustainable, thriving innovation ecosystem for years to come.