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At Sage we pride ourselves in being the champion of Small & Medium sized businesses – this responsibility spans raising local government issues, designing awesome products and helping our customers consume the latest and greatest technology that is available today.

As we embark on the 4th Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the buzzword on most businesses ‘to-do’ list. With this trend rising in prominence we felt it was important to address the underlying questions that AI brings, and call our peers in the tech industry to action, by asking that they develop AI that is ethical and accountable.

Sage have worked with think tank Entrepreneurs Network to develop the ideas and policy proposals of a wide group of experts and entrepreneurs to ensure businesses flourish in every region of the country.

Today, sixty-six entrepreneurs and business experts have put their name to a letter calling on the next Government to create a coherent plan to boost Britain’s businesses.

Open letter to the next Prime Minister

In our view, there should have been immediate plans to boost British businesses in the manifestos.

The next Government, regardless of its political persuasion, must prioritise support of the millions of start-ups, scale-ups and entrepreneurs around the UK. These are the job creators that will continue to fuel the economy, improve productivity, exploit trade opportunities, increase the Government’s future tax take and pay for the vital education and healthcare that our country needs.

This is why we support a set of actionable policies set out in a detailed report released today, which could be implemented immediately to create a culture of entrepreneurship and boost the prospects of businesses across the UK. These policies would:

  • Deliver more targeted business support.
  • Encourage young people to gain the necessary skills for entrepreneurship or to find enterprising work opportunities.
  • Put digital transformation at the heart of the Government’s agenda to help close our productivity gap.
  • Reform the visa system to improve access to talent.
  • Simplify tax for the smallest businesses.
  • Apply an Innovation Principle to regulation and ‘sandbox’ environment to enable regulation of disruptive technologies without stifling innovation.
  • Provide an innovative digital marketplace to drive up SMB procurement. 
  • Equip small businesses and scale-ups to embrace export opportunities.

These policies are not reliant on the vagaries of Brexit negotiations or major public spending commitments, but will give a clear signal that the UK is the best place to start and grow a business. We call on the next Prime Minister to put them into action.

Giles Andrews, Co-founder & CEO, Zopa; Peter, Bance, CEO, Origami Energy; Mairi Bannon, Co-Founder & Director, Strategic Dimensions; Maxine Benson, Founder, Everywoman; Mark Brownridge, Director General, EISA; Ed Bussey, Founder & CEO, Quill; Glen Calvert, Founder & CEO, Affectv; Zabetta Camilleri, Founder & CEO, Shopological; Duncan Cheatle, Founder, Prelude Group & Rise To; James Codling, Co-Founder, VentureFounders; Rachel Coldicutt, CEO, Doteveryone; Alison Cork, Founder and CEO, Alison at Home; Rachael Corson, Founder Afrocenchix; Gareth Davies, Co-Founder & CEO, Adbrain; Dana Denis-Smith, Founder & CEO, Obelisk Support & First 100 Years; Romilly Dennys, Executive Director, Coadec; Rajeeb Dey MBE, CEO, Learnerbly; Sam Dumitriu, Research Economist, Adam Smith Institute; Steve Folwell, Co-Founder and CEO, LoveSpace; Lance Forman, Managing Director, H. Forman & Son; Jonathan Gan, Founder, Whichit; Gemma Godfrey, Founder & CEO, Moola; Sam Gordon, Co-Founder, Gordon & Eden; Kate Grussing, Founder & Managing Director, Sapphire Partners; Chris        Haley, Executive Director, Policy & Research, Nesta; Nick Halstead, CEO & Founder, DataSift; David Holloway, Founder & CEO , Marlin Hawk; Mike Jackson, Founder & CEO, Webstart Bristol; Simon Johnson, Chairman, Association of British Jewellers; Husayn Kassai, Co-Founder, Onfido; Stephen Kelly, CEO, Sage; Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and Founder, Pavegen Systems; Marta Krupińska, Co-Founder, Azimo; Kate Lester, Founder & CEO, Diamond Logistics; Stuart Lucas, Founder & Co-CEO, Asset Match; Jeff Lynn, Chief Executive Officer, Seedrs; Alex MacDonald, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Velocity; Graeme Malcolm OBE, Founder & CEO, M Squared Lasers; Chris McCullough, Co-Founder, RotaGeek; Fiona McIntosh, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Blow Ltd; Simon McVicker, Director of Policy and External Affairs, IPSE; Cyrus Mewawalla, Founder and Managing Director, CM Research; Charlie Mowat, Founder & Managing Director, The Clean Space; David Murray-Hundley, Chairman, Efundamantals; Guy Myles, Founder, Flying Colours; Michael Nabarro, Co-Founder & CEO, Spektrix; Pierre-Simon Ntiruhungwa, Head, Founders of the Future; Irina Pafomova, Co-Founder, Engelworks; Alastair Paterson, CEO and Co-Founder, Digital Shadows; Stephen Phillips, CEO, ZappiStore; Edward Poland, Co-Founder & COO, Hire Space; Sean Ramsden, CEO, Ramsden International; Modwenna Rees-Mogg, Founder & CEO AngelNews; Karina Robinson, CEO, Robinson Hambro; Philip Salter, Founder, The Entrepreneurs Network; Alexander Schey, Co-Founder, Vantage Power; Tobyy Schulz, Co-founder, Vantage Power; Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates; Sam Smith, Founder, finnCap; Patrick Stobbs, Co-Founder & COO, Jukedeck; Will Swannell, Co-Founder & CEO, Hire Space; Jeffrey       Thomas, Chairman & Co-Founder, UKCloud; Michele Trusolino, Co-Founder & COO, Debut; Elizabeth Varley, Founder, TechHub; Ross Williams, Founder and Chairman, Venntro Media Group, Simon Woodroffe OBE, Founder, YO! Sushi, YOTEL & YO! Home

To accompany the letter, The Entrepreneurs Network has published a detailed policy report, A Boost for British Businesses. It includes contributions from the Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, Nesta, Adam Smith Institute, Sage, IPSE, SQW, Coadec and Nesta. The project is sponsored by Sage. Download the full report.

The policy asks are at the vanguard of research in the UK; don’t rely on the vagaries of Brexit negotiations; could be adopted by all political parties; and wouldn’t put a significant strain on the exchequer.

Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneurs Network, comments: “The letter and report show the appetite entrepreneurs have for better policies to support their aspirations. It also shows the wealth of great ideas experts have to make Britain more competitive. This isn’t meant to be the final word policies to support entrepreneurs, but the start of nationwide conversation about what businesses really need to succeed.”

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Sage and former chief operating officer of the UK government, comments: “Since the economic downturn and Brexit, small and medium-sized businesses have proven most resilient, creating over two thirds of all new jobs in the UK. It has never been more important for Government – regardless of its political persuasion – to listen to British entrepreneurs. Simplification is a theme that runs throughout the report. Whether in procurement, regulation, tax, skills or business support, the ability to simplify and unshackle our businesses from outdated policy and draconian legislation is key if we want to unlock their potential.”


Sage Iberia launches an Aid Plan to facilitate the digital
transformation of SMEs and professional firms.

Madrid February 6, 2017: Sage, the world leader in cloud accounting systems, has just launched an Aid Plan to help SMEs and professional firms in Iberia with their digital transformation plans.

The €3 million aid fund will benefit around 5,400 companies and is intended to enable them to acquire the new management solutions Sage has recently launched: Sage 50c; Sage200c; Sage Despachos for Life and Sage X3.

Luis Pardo, Sage MD Iberia, said, “The launch of this aid plan reinforces our commitment to help small and medium-sized companies and professional firms, the ‘Business Builders’ of this country, to incorporate leading technology in the market, helping them to improve their management processes and successfully address their digital transformation.”

Full details of the Aid Plan can be found here.


FTSE 100 CEO Stephen Kelly says small businesses still being ignored by policy makers as big business flocks to Davos

16 January 2017: Small businesses continue to feel ignored by the government, according to new research by Sage. The research highlights that 67% of small businesses feel under-represented by politicians in the run up to the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), where they continue to be omitted from the agenda. As a result, Sage CEO Stephen Kelly has announced that he will boycott Davos for the second year running.

In order to give business builders a platform to connect with policy makers, Sage is launching its ‘Forum for Business Builders’. The Forum brings entrepreneurs from around the world insights, events and policy-forming partnerships to give them a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage.

It builds on Sage’s ongoing commitment to bring governments together with business builders. In December, Sage visited Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Australia and hosted an Taosieach Enda Kenny in Dublin to discuss small business challenges in their countries. It also hosted two events in the UK gathering Ministers and trade associations to discuss the implications of the EU Referendum on entrepreneurs.

The first piece of global research from the Forum shows that entrepreneurs remain optimistic, despite global instability. Three quarters (75%) anticipate their business turnover to grow (26%) or remain constant (49%) over the next 12 months, while more than a third (34%) plan to launch a new product or service. However, red tape continues to be their biggest challenge going into 2017 (18%), and they are looking to the government provide better business support; almost half (49%) felt that this was the most positive change their government could make this year, followed by improvements to tax (46%) and funding in innovation (34%).

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, said: “Only too often when the world’s policy makers discuss the global economic picture, small businesses are excluded from the discussion. This is most evident with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos where small businesses aren’t even an item on the agenda. Worse still, 60% don’t even know the event is taking place. It’s crazy when you think they create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98% of all businesses.

Kelly continues “Business builders are the heroes of the economy. They toil away long after the rest of us have gone home, making personal sacrifices to grow their businesses, to support their families and communities. Policy makers and big business must wake up to the fact that these heroes need to be supported and given a voice, if we are to ensure the future health of the world’s economy.”

The Forum is open to all small businesses and will be refreshed regularly with diverse content and insights from guest contributors and advisors.