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Ambassador Q&A - Richard Faulkner

Promising future beckons for Northern Powerhouse and Scotland tech companies

A vibrant tech start-up community is flourishing in the Northern Powerhouse and Scotland and according to Richard Faulkner, a Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), the best is yet to come. An ambassador of the Go Further Investment Index, Richard shares his thoughts on innovation drivers, the region’s economic potential and selecting a bank that can support you through your entire business journey.

Tell us a bit about your background and what you do now?

I’ve supported Northern innovation companies for the last 13 years and continue to marvel at the quality and quantity of tech businesses coming out of the region.

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) prides itself on being the bank of the world’s most innovative businesses, enterprises and their investors. We work with innovation companies all the way through their life cycle from early-stage to venture-backed, and then profitable and public companies, providing banking and strategic financing to support their growth. Some of our customers include Trustpilot, Snyk, GoCardless, The Hut Group, Matillion and Made.com.

What factors do you think are driving the increasing acceleration of disruptive business models?

We’re seeing every industry now use some form of digital technology, whether that’s automation, artificial intelligence (AI), software-as-a-service (SaaS) or other digital services.

The UK has a long history of fostering innovation and we are now seeing the mix of capital, talent, academia and entrepreneurship all working in unison to help drive and accelerate disruption across all industries.

The UK is by far the most mature innovation ecosystem in Europe, and we are now seeing a stable of market leaders emerge as the UK becomes an innovation hub for fast-growth companies to scale. In the UK, we start really great companies, but we need to ensure they go through the full life cycle to recycle capital, talent and drive new company creation.

What does the Northern Powerhouse and Scotland need to realise its full economic potential?

While London’s tech credentials are well known, tech entrepreneurs and investors are increasingly looking towards the North and Scotland, where the cost of living is less and there’s access to fantastic talent through a great network of universities. These universities are also extremely collaborative, evidenced by the recent £500m Northern Gritstone fund led by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

I personally believe the best is yet to come when it comes to the tech sector across the North and Scotland, with SVB playing its part to help innovation entrepreneurs grow and create market-leading companies.

What should you consider when choosing a bank and how can banks support entrepreneurs with ambitious growth plans?

Looking at what additional value the bank can provide is crucial. This could be access to its network via influential partners, investors and professional services, as well as how well does the bank or relationship managers understand your business and sector.

At Silicon Valley Bank, we focus on enhancing the relationship with entrepreneurs and being a long-term partner. Understanding what is right for each client at any given time and how they can best achieve their objectives and grow is key.

Core banking and lending services are important, but these are very commoditised, so think about how the bank will support you through the whole life cycle rather than just the initial phase. Looking for a specialist rather than generalist bank is what will help your business grow and succeed as the business matures and evolves.

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