Mayor of London Boris Johnson helps high growth firms set sights on international expansion
More than 40 per cent of London-based SMEs aiming to trade internationally
London exports worth £140bn to capital’s economy
Fifty of London’s fastest growing companies will join the first cohort of the Mayor’s International Business Programme, a new initiative launched today to help the capital’s high growth firms break into new international markets or grow their existing operations overseas.
The programme is led by London & Partners, the Mayor’s official promotional company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and supported by industry partners including BDO, KPMG, PA Consulting Group, Benoy and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is the first programme of its kind, using peer-to-peer mentoring and private sector backing, to help London companies to scale up and internationalise.
Companies joining the programme span the technology, life sciences and urban sectors and include the likes of the transport app Gett, the urban cycling company Blaze which is backed by Index Ventures and the Branson family. Other companies joining the programme include Technology Will Save Us, Kano, Adzuna, Grub Club, Bloom & Wild, Big White Wall and RealEyes.
The programme, launched by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, aims to support 800 high growth companies based in the capital over the next three years to increase their international business potential.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP, said: “London has a strong heritage as an international trading city and our position at the centre of the business world means the city offers the perfect springboard for companies looking to expand internationally. London’s businesses and entrepreneurs continue to be at the forefront of innovation and creativity and I have seen first-hand the demand for their goods and services across the world. By helping the capital’s businesses become the next global leaders we will see the creation of more jobs for Londoners.”
Serial entrepreneur and mentor for the programme, Sherry Coutu CBE added: “As London’s technology and creative sectors continue to grow, we are starting to see a new wave of high growth companies. International expansion is a key enabler in helping us to produce more UK businesses of genuine scale. It is important that we draw upon our existing strengths from the large number of UK companies who are already international success stories while removing the barriers for the next generation of rising stars.”
Companies joining the Mayor’s International Business Programme will get bespoke advice and mentoring from some of the world’s most recognised and celebrated businesses leaders from across North America, Europe and Asia including Sarah Wood, Co-Founder of Unruly and Kathryn Parsons, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Decoded and Nilesh Gopali, Country Head, India, cloudBuy.
Commenting on their reasons for joining the programme, Bethany Koby CEO and co-founder of Hackney education technology start-up Technology Will Save Us said: “Being based in London has given us access to an incredible community of ambitious entrepreneurs who’ve been instrumental to our growth in the UK and internationally. There are more and more businesses focused on the importance of tech skills for young people and who are excited about making and coding as a way to unleash their potential. I’m not sure there has ever been a more exciting time to be building a learning-focused organisation in the UK, and we are thrilled to be leading the charge and championing EdTech in this field.”
28 per cent of London-based SMEs are currently trading internationally (importing or exporting) according to recent research conducted by KPMG Small Business Accounting. However, more than 40 per cent say they aim to be doing so within the next five years.1
Exports from London are a key driver of the capital’s economy. Current estimates put the value of London’s exports at £139.9 billion a year, up from £60 billion a decade ago2 and the capital is home to more than a quarter (25.5%) of all companies in the UK that are exporting3.
Gordon Innes, CEO London & Partners said: “London’s innovations in technology and life sciences are gaining worldwide recognition and the city has already produced global pioneers in areas such as fintech and digital health. Drawing on the expertise of our business partners and entrepreneur networks, we have designed a bespoke programme to help London’s growth heroes meet their global ambitions.”
Separate research from KPMG, found that 47 per cent of global CEOs are looking to invest further into geographic expansion outside of their home countries. The report surveying 1200 chief executives of businesses across 10 countries, also found that over half of UK CEOs (58 per cent) said that global economic growth is a leading issue impacting their companies today4.
Kevin Smith, London Chairman at KPMG said: “Doing business in international markets is absolutely vital for any small enterprise looking to grow but where to start and how to find out what opportunities are out there is often the biggest barrier for business owners. KPMG is delighted to support the Mayor in his International Business Programme helping start-up businesses in London by offering advice on how to export, connections abroad and access to opportunities to build confidence and sales. We believe we have a role to play in helping to make this journey as seamless as possible for the small business owner with big ambitions.”
Kim Hayward, International Liaison Partner at BDO, said: “London is one of the command centres for the international economy but we cannot take its pre-eminence as a truly global city for granted. One of the crucial areas for development is around helping London’s businesses expand abroad – especially its highly ambitious and entrepreneurial mid-market businesses. That’s why schemes like the Mayor’s International Business Programme are so important and will help businesses on the journey from strong domestic scale-ups to successful exporters to international businesses.”
Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “LCCI has a long and rich history of delivering trade support and several missions every year as part of an international network of chambers, and we know that supporting SMEs with exporting is crucial to help them grow their business overseas. LCCI is delighted to join the Mayor’s International Business Programme and we look forward to supporting the Programme in delivering events and missions.”
Colm Reilly, who leads PA Consulting Group’s economic development service said: “It is not enough to talk about internationalisation. We are now in a world where specific Global Supply Chains are increasing in value faster than GDP in all developed countries. The International Business Programme is about targeting those supply chains, indentifying the entry points and allowing the right SMEs to scale quickly by being part of this programme. The Mayor has created this programme to achieve real and tangible outcomes for business and we are delighted to have this platform.”
Tom Cartledge, Global Director at Benoy commented: “Benoy is proud to be a part of the Mayor’s International Business Programme and is delighted to able to share its global experience with companies taking their first and formative steps on their international journey. Working in partnership with the Programme, Benoy is looking forward to encouraging and supporting British Business in its endeavours in the international marketplace.”