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UK needs a culture shift to build a global IT business

British entrepreneurs just don’t have what it takes to build a software giant like Google or Microsoft, according to a jury of US Silicon Valley business leaders.

They voted 10 to 2 against the possibility that Britain could ever build a software business to rival some of the US giants that dominate the sector.

However, although world dominance by a UK company is never going to happen in their view, the British software industry is thriving. The poll was conducted by leading US magazine Business Week.

The jury warned that the UK government needs to help young companies more and schools and universities need to improve teaching maths, science, technology and engineering to equip the next generation of software developers with the skills to succeed.

One jury member, London Clinic IT director Mike Roberts blames teaching for not promoting entrepreneurship.

"The UK does not have the right economic or educational environment to support the growth of this type of skill. Development costs are too high and staff retention is very difficult," he said.

Comments from the jury were generally unsupportive about the UK’s attitude to helping entrepreneurs. They ranged from:

    * Despite have the technological expertise to produce the product; the UK lacks people with marketing skills to build a global organisation

    * Often good ideas start in the UK, but insufficient investment and support for R&D is available and the idea is often picked up elsewhere and looks like a US idea even though it’s made in Britain

    * British business does not applaud entrepreneurial success in the same way as the US

The argument was that it’s difficult to think of any market where a British company is the world leader and that although scientists and business are inventive, they are poor at picking up and carrying an idea.

They jury also pointed out that about 40,000 Brits work in the US software industry, which is a huge drain of talent on the UK.

GMAC-RFC IT director Graeme Martin, felt any British bid to build a software giant are restricted by lack of know-how in other sectors.

"The UK is intellectually more than capable of producing a global software giant, but I am not sure if they have the management and marketing expertise to exploit that capability to the extent necessary," he said.


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