Reeves unveils “radical plan” to make Britain the “start-up hub of the world”

© Rupert Rivett/

Rachel Reeves will set out a “radical plan” to make Britain the “high-growth, start-up hub of the world” as she unveils the results of the party’s independent review at Labour’s business conference on Thursday.

Addressing the gathering on Thursday, at which attendees will hear from shadow ministers and business leaders, the Shadow Chancellor will outline the outcome of a review – Start-Up, Scale Up – led by independent peer Jim O’Neill.

Reeves is expected to warn that the country is at a “post-Brexit crossroads”, and that the choice facing Britain is to either “go down the road of managed decline, falling behind our competitors” or “draw on bold thinking to propel us forward”.

“These are challenging economic times. But I know the spirit of enterprise, of creativity, of endeavour are as present in Britain today as they ever have been,” the Shadow Chancellor will tell the conference.

“Start-Up, Scale-Up provides crucial insights towards achieving one of the guiding ambitions of the next Labour government: to make Britain the best place to start, and to grow, a business. And it sends a powerful message: that Labour is back in business.”

Reeves will reveal the conclusions of the review – which consulted entrepreneurs, investors, and policy-makers, heard from more than 120 industry leaders at a series of roundtables across the country and reviewed responses to a call for evidence – which include recommendations to:

  • “Remove barriers to institutional investment in high growth firms;
  • “Help make innovation born in universities become a reality; and
  • “Give the British Business Bank real independence to allow it to bring in more investment into the economy.”

O’Neill is a cross-bench peer and non-executive chair of Northern Gritstone, a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs and ex-chair of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. From 2015, he served as a minister with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse and focusing on driving innovation in the North of England.

The peer was joined on the panel of the review by: tech entrepreneur Tom Adeyoola; Alex Depledge, CEO and co-founder of home improvement platform Resi; and director at the Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London Julie Devonshire.

The panel recommended that Britain draw on the experience of the Tibi scheme in France with the aim of building engagement and understanding between institutional investors and venture capital, which it argued has the potential to unlock billions of investment into high-growth companies.

The review also advised that Labour should ensure the British Business Bank is independent and has the ability to leverage external funds to amplify its work, and that it should use its support to foster clusters around groups of universities.

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