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‘We’ve got to do it our own way!’ The Duke of York tells UK startups

HRH The Duke of York during Pitch@Palace, 2014.

HRH The Duke of York during Pitch@Palace, 2014.

‘Vital, it’s absolutely vital!’ said HRH The Duke of York when asked in an interview with Wayra UK how important it is for the UK to tread its own path in establishing itself as a global entrepreneurial hub.

‘Looking at entrepreneurs, looking at the venture capitalist business, looking at how business in different countries are supported; the biggest thing I’ve learnt, and the most important, is do it so it fits the ecosystem of your organisation or your country. Don’t copy somebody else.’

Prince Andrew’s comments come as the second Global Millennial Survey found more millennials in the UK want to establish their own businesses as opposed to work for an existing company and 78 percent believe their country gives them the opportunity in becoming an entrepreneur and bringing an idea to market.

We’ve got to do it our way!

Speaking to Wayra during Pitch@Palace, an initiative supporting entrepreneurs, who His Royal Highness believes are essential to Britain’s continuing prosperity, The Duke said the UK must differentiate itself from other entrepreneurial hubs and define its own set of characteristics.

“There are elements of things that you can benchmark across the world, but actually, we’ve got to do it our way!”

The Duke identified Pitch@Palace as his way of nurturing Britain’s startups and described how he uses his influence and position as an ‘accelerant’ to connect startups with some of the UK’s most esteemed business leaders:

“I do what a member of the royal family does best and in the business world, that’s being an accelerant. I’m not saying my way is right but all I can do is create those conditions where entrepreneur meets investor and gets on with it.”

To reinforce this point, two UK-based serial entrepreneurs discussed how leveraging The Duke’s influence will help these businesses in the long run:

“Let’s be honest, these small businesses need support, they need help but more importantly, they need the profile of something like this event can give them. Just look at the people turning up. There are some serious players here and who knows, they [startups] could walk away with an investment.” said BBC Dragon Peter Jones CBE.

Former BBC Dragon Doug Richard acknowledged the benefits of Prince Andrew diversifying the Pitch@Palace event to target different industries:

“What The Duke has done successfully is understood the group of potential investors in technology is very different to say creative companies. Thus, by segregating the event, you make sure the right money is in the room at the right opportunity.”

Diversity key to innovation

One defining characteristic of the UK startup ecosystem is its rich diversity. With nearly 500,000 migrant entrepreneurs in the UK representing 155 nationalities, the UK is the destination of choice for startups in Europe and a growing proposition for those entrepreneurs across the world.

When asked about his commitment to ensuring that more people from all backgrounds are given the opportunity of becoming an entrepreneur, His Royal Highness believes that there shouldn’t be ‘any bar’ to where you come from to being an entrepreneur.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me where you come from or what your background is. As far as being an entrepreneur and somebody who starts something, it can come from anywhere.”

Gary Stewart, Director at Wayra UK, greatly welcomed The Duke of York’s support for social diversification within the UK startup ecosystem and said the UK was ‘championing’ social inclusion compared to other global entrepreneurial hubs:

“My experience in the UK is that there’s a huge global cohort of aspiring entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and ethnicities. The Duke yields influence that can lead to societal change so to have a member of the royal family identify diversity and equally as good values is significant.”

The Duke of York will be attending Wayra’s demoDay on 4th December. You can watch LIVE via Wayra TV and follow updates via @WayraUK and#WayraDD