A new report by James Sproule, former senior business adviser to Boris Johnson in Downing Street, argues that the key to making the UK a champion for global entrepreneurship - and making the vision of Global Britain a reality - is to position the UK to support a new generation of start-ups around the world.
‘Going Global’, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, argues that the government should establish two connected schemes: e-citizenship (modelled on the scheme introduced by Estonia) and e-businesses. Trusted entrepreneurs would be able to set up and operate start-up firms from anywhere in the world, while adhering to and benefiting from British corporate governance and English law.
The report suggests these measures would stimulate investment and global entrepreneurship, especially in countries where the start-up spirit is stifled by corruption and maladministration. It would also put the UK at the heart of global trade in services and ideas.
A British e-citizenship scheme would give overseas entrepreneurs access to UK services, to the benefit of English law, to UK financing and investors, providing assurance to customers and creditors that they, and the company they represent, were trustworthy.
The report highlights that businesses in much of the developing world have difficulty in raising capital from international sources, as investors are cautious about putting their money in places where the rule of law is weak and there needs to be a considerable investment of time to understand local legal complexities.
By having the UK e-international company based in English law, which is well understood and widely trusted, the path would be open for investors to channel capital to places and firms that had never before been considered. High standards of governance would ensure that such firms adhered scrupulously to British rules and regulations.
The scheme could also tie into the new points-based immigration system, so that those operating established and successful companies receive extra immigration points in their application, ensuring that the UK really does attract the best and brightest. However, e-citizenship would confer no automatic right to move to Britain.
The model is similar to Estonian e-residency, which has led to the registration of 10,000 new companies and 62,000 applications for e-residence.
James Sproule, author of the report, said:
“The future for the United Kingdom is one full of possibilities, and nowhere are these possibilities more obvious than in looking at the potential for new global trading and business relationships.
“There could be no greater testament to the Prime Minister and United Kingdom’s commitment to free trade than inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to benefit from the business culture of the UK – and few better ways of offering British companies a chance to help the most rapidly growing firms in the world to prosper.”