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South Africa-based tech accelerator Sw7 has partnered with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to put together a South African trade mission to London. The mission will be centered around the Innovate UK 2015 event taking place in November in London, England. The object of this trade mission is to help companies base themselves in or expand to the UK to address global markets.
This trade mission will be a week-long endeavour. The first two days will be spent at the Innovate UK event. The remainder of this time will be spent talking to and connecting with investors, businesses, innovation hubs, accelerators, and incubators in the technology sector. Sw7 and UKTI’s goal is to connect business and people to launch businesses in the UK of which there is already a significant support base.
In a press release sent to Ventureburn, co-founder of Sw7 Keith Jones says the innovation market in London is “booming” and that £1.2-billion (US$1.8-billion) has already been invested in the sector. He goes on to say, “There is no doubt that London is a great base from which to address the developed markets. The time zone, language and relatively quick flights, mean that it is far more accessible to us than the North American markets.”
The two things we are lacking in South Africa, access to capital and access to global markets, are more readily available in the UK. It is a natural progression for successful technology businesses to look beyond the developing markets to the more developed digital economies, if they are ready for expansion.
The event is the first of its kind that the Sw7 has attempted. Jones says South Africa has the potential to become an emerging markets technology hub, but in order to do so entrepreneurs need to connect with global markets, and not wait for them to approach South Africa.
An ideal outcome for us would be some commercial transactions as well as laying the foundation for a number of businesses to set themselves up in the UK.
Businesses will pay for their own travel expenses, but the UKTI will cover access to the events for attendees, of which there will be many.
Due to the UK’s stringent VISA regulations, this project will be an interesting one to watch. In an article written by John Dunn of 1st Contact, a business dealing in UK immigration and other sectors, with offices in Cape Town, South Africa, those wanting a UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa “can demonstrate their intentions to set up or take over a business in the UK; have access to a minimum of £200 000 (over US$300 000) in investment funds,” and meet other requirements.
The article goes on to state, “The Home Office is adamant that anyone who genuinely plans to start a business in the UK shouldn’t be worried about the government’s restrictions; if you can provide evidence of your business activities and fulfil the requirements of the visa, there’s no reason for you to face any additional bureaucracy.”
Image by Stefano Montagner via Flickr