After a busy year so far, the summer lull is the time for a much-needed holiday, as well as offering the chance to get on top of the growing pile of admin on my desk. It also provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the progress of our diverse portfolio of companies outside the day-to-day business meetings, the new exciting projects and people that we are working with and their successes, as well as lessons learned.
Working day to day with so many exciting, successful companies can create a feeling of complacency, with both innovation and industry thriving, driven by a wealth of inspired, talented individuals. However, complacency is the Achilles heel of success. We must continue to nurture talent and stimulate growth to ensure the true potential of innovation is reached.
Alongside our seed fund I have been fortunate enough to spend time recently helping to inspire and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs to develop their ideas into successful business ventures by participating in several selection panels. These include the SME Leaders Programme from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Enterprise Fellowship Scheme from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the ICURe programme for university teams with commercially-promising ideas. These events have been inspiring and refreshing opportunities to listen to some of the brightest individuals from across the UK and to engage with their forward-thinking new business ideas.
When sitting on the investment side of science and business, it is easy to forget that life as a start-up company is not all fun and games, as it may sometimes seem. As Gary Pisano from the Harvard Business Review explains in this insightful article, “The easy-to-like behaviours that get so much attention are only one side of the coin. They must be counterbalanced by some tougher and frankly less fun behaviours.” Pisano goes on to list some of the values which all entrepreneurs must uphold, including the acceptance of failure but not of incompetence, the drive to take risks but not without discipline and the requirement for collaboration without shying from individual action. Although it is easier said than done, these are things we see on a day-to-day basis with many of our portfolio companies and we must congratulate them for this.
Mentoring the next generation
It is essential that our business knowledge and industry insights are passed on to new entrepreneurs to ensure the highest level of success possible for young companies starting out. Helping new ideas become a reality for striving scientists is made possible not just by funding, but crucially by mentoring, as well as going above and beyond as individuals. Each of us can use the summer months to consider how we as individuals could make more of a difference.
As many of us know, trying to balance business paradoxes and the obstacles of start-up life as an entrepreneur is both challenging and exciting. Therefore, we at UKI2S wish you the best of luck over the following months, whether you are one of our initiates, new business partners, or simply start-ups striving for success.
Dr Andy Muir