50 Game Changers in the Thames Valley
Welcome to the 2020 cohort of the 50 Game Changers, our fourth edition. We think it’s fair to say it’s been an interesting year – irrespective of where your thinking lay on certain decisions being taken at a government level we now face an uncertain future for at least the next twelve months, both at a regional and national level. Some will say we stand on the edge of huge opportunity, others that we face significant challenge – time will tell. One thing that we do understand is that the leadership teams featured in these pages all have the capability to adapt and respond to these ever changing market conditions.
The Thames Valley, with its high concentration of international tech logos, may be more susceptible to decisions based on access to European markets than other areas in the UK. It will be interesting to watch whether the excellent transport links that are so often cited as a plus for the region act as enough of a draw to keep companies here that will potentially be travelling longer haul.
Proximity to London also remains an interesting contradiction for the region – one thing we certainly noticed this year was that a number of potential game changers wanted to be more identified with London rather than proud of their Thames Valley heritage. Brand Thames Valley potentially needs a makeover but while we continue with fragmented initiatives across the region, with key players in the ecosystem not aligned to one another, you can hardly blame ambitious founders for wanting better access to peers, investors and talent.
We have tried to address one of these, access to peers, through our latest initiative – The Curious Lounge – in Reading town centre. As Game Changers each of you will receive an annual membership and we hope that by providing a comfortable, well connected business lounge with a varied programme of events that we can encourage more of you to meet and benefit from knowledge share across your peer community.
Now that we have a dedicated venue we are able to far better plan for the medium term and will be running quarterly events to bring you together, running peer based workshops around content driven by you – we feel this is likely to focus on areas such as unlocking Innovate funding, which accelerator programmes actually benefit their attendees or experience of raising with different investors but we welcome your input on what you feel would be valuable.
Regarding investment our headline numbers look positive, this year’s cohort raised £83m in the twelve months prior to publication. Underlying however was a marked decrease in the number and amount of Innovate grants and equity funding seemed to stall other than with a couple of larger raises. According to investment analysis platform Beauhurst this is in line with activity across the UK, particularly at seed level, but is a stark reminder of the paralysis that Brexit has caused.
In other news, part of Louize’s time is now spent representing the region at the Tech Cluster UK group, that meets with representatives from the DCMS. Other clusters attending include Manchester, Sunderland, Bristol, Cardiff and Sheffield among others. The purpose of the group is to inform DCMS policy and decision making with a true grassroots perspective of innovation in regions. We welcome any input that you may have regarding initiatives that can make the Thames Valley, and indeed the UK, more innovative and competitive.
As ever the purpose of the 50 Game Changers is to celebrate the company founders and their teams genuinely forging a different path in whatever sector they operate in. We hope that by bringing you together we can help connect the visionaries in our region and in some small way help you on your journey towards success. Thank you for daring to be a Game Changer.
Download the full publication here – Game Changers 2020