London Centric World | Aivars Lipenitis

Is there a life in the UK outside London? International R&D and scaling opportunities for overseas companies with/in/from the UK regions. Pt.I. Intro

By lipenitis 0 Comment 16/04/2020

Originally published on Medium on October 14, 2019.
London-centric world
London-centric world

In the middle of last summer I received an offer. I am fully occupied with agency ENRIGA helping companies to scale internationally, and my mentoring, teaching, and training activities but the offer was tempting and challenging. So I decided to explore it. We did not agree but it inspired me to share this story about the Brexit torn United Kingdom, especially England, which is not only London. About opportunities.

The story is about:

  • Business opportunities with, within and from UK,
  • Opportunities and differences in regions outside London,
  • R&D possibilities and support,
  • Investor opportunities and specifics,
  • Scaling support, scaling challenges in regions.

It’s for entrepreneurs and those behind international partnerships and scaling of companies interested in international R&D, reselling, investment attraction, and selling opportunities.

First, let me tell more about the offer and how it went for me. The offer involved relocation to the UK for a fixed, quite long term, well paid, responsible and serious role, and a variety of responsibilities. There were numerous rounds, and at the end I gave the role to my “rival”. Good luck with that to him.

During the process, I had to think more about what I do know about opportunities for overseas companies in the UK, investment attraction possibilities, and challenges. I decided to share these thoughts and facts with you as it might be of help to a start-up, scale-up, or an enterprise.

Great campaign
Great campaign

What is UK / England / Great Britain to a foreigner

I was first in the UK some 7–8 years ago. Of course, I went to London, and it was a business trip, to take care of my then digital and remote contacts and partnerships, and show my company is legit and serious enough to work with large partners. I had other repeated trips to London in further years, and my knowledge about the UK was limited to those trips with posh events, wealthy partners, and busy London, as well as books read (for example, The Secret Series by Enid Blyton about adventures of kids in various mysterious parts of England) and movies seen about the beautiful nature somewhere in England, or Great Britain, or United Kingdom. Had no clue about how those 3 differ.

When founding ENRIGA and becoming its Director of International Development I started visiting the UK more often, and the visits reached peak last year by being there too often and spending too much time on the Great island to think living in my home Latvia is still reasonable.

Merseyside | Liverpool

Once, again, in London, I was visiting a networking event, where I met a gentleman of a decent age. He was from Merseyside. Yes, I too had no idea where it was. He asked whether I’ve been to North England, or more precisely — North West. Again — no guess what’s he talking about. He said — you should! We had a chat, and I learned he is talking about

Merseyside — a mysterious part of England, in England’s North West.

Referred by most people as Liverpool, but includes other parts in the region as well. Called by river Mersey which flows through it. Merseyside is where Titanic — the icon which never made its first trip — left shores. While it was built in another part of England — other port city Southampton in South East England.

Word by word, the man invited me to see Liverpool.

The only thing I knew about it was — some friends have studied somewhere there, then left for Manchester or other bigger city to work, and then maybe left for somewhere else for better growth opportunities. Ok, of course I knew Liverpool is big for football. Did not know much about the game, or this sport though.

I had a chance to go to the same part of North England for an exploratory visit. Had no idea they call it North West. The visit was arranged by

Northern Powerhouse, another mysterious something. Is it a region, an organization, a building, a company, a quarter, or a symbolic name to a union or project?

were my thoughts. I knew the visit would involve going to Manchester and Leeds. When mentioning someone in London I am thinking of going there, a usual reaction was: “Why? Why would you do that?” or “Never been there!” So I was guessing if

there is life outside London

The gentleman from Merseyside met in London almost lost his British temper when he found out I had no intentions to visit or explore Merseyside. So he made me to change my mind.

With one more reason to visit North (West) England, I took the opportunity and went there.

Before telling the full story, I want to clarify some terms, and give a reader background information about regions, cities, countries, island, and the united country called the United Kingdom. Might be not worth reading to some Britons, definitely might discover something (finally) to those not from the UK, but maybe will put something in place to a Briton as well.

So how do

England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom

differ, and what is what, which includes what?

United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

England — a country, a part of the United Kingdom, which is a country as well. England is a part of Great Britain, which is an island. England’s capital is London, which is also the capital city of the United Kingdom — the big country.

Great Britain — an island. England, Wales, and Scotland are countries located in Great Britain. Great Britain is not a country, it is only a part of the United Kingdom — the big country.

The United Kingdom — also known as United Kingdom or UK — it is THE COUNTRY. It includes Great Britain, i.e. territories of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as a part of Ireland — its neighboring island. Same name is given to a country which is a part of the island. But another part is called Northern Ireland — another country within the United Kingdom — the country we all know, the one which is referred as a country leaving European Union now. So when talking about Brexit, we don’t speak about Great Britain or England leaving EU, but the

UK leaving EU.

UK — England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. This part is clear.

What is North England, North East and North West, South West, etc.?

These are regions, or parts of England. If you hear someone in the United Kingdom saying he/she is from North East, it means most often one of nine regions in England, including smaller regions and towns. Similarly, North West includes counties as Merseyside, Cheshire, and more, and hosts cities as Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Chester, and other.

Complicated? My motherland Latvia consists of 110 regions, willing to cut the number by 1/2 in 2 years. That all in a country with less than 2M people living there, and with a territory 6x less than the UK.

Still, is there life outside London?

Never judge a region by its nowadays position or situation. Britons are brave and they respect their history, and expect you to do same. An example? Yorkshire, now known as a region of England, was once possibly the the wealthiest part of it with York — an ancient city — once an important hub, now serving flows of tourists daily. Yorkshire is also the largest region or county of England. Let’s not get too much into detail and start exploring North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, or what’s the relation of it and New York city in the U.S…

So what is Northern Powerhouse?

Northern Powerhouse is something the government formed to unite, promote, and support the region’s development. The region, rich with its football, universities, and history, had to come up with a solution to the UK being too London-centric. The term first introduced 5 years ago, refers to North England as a region and an organization being a part of the Department for International Trade, looking after the region’s growth and development, by delivering a story of its strengths to people, companies, investors, and other parties, as well as supporting them in starting activities there.

Northern Powerhouse
The region of the Northern Powerhouse

Check back soon for another story where I’ll write about differences of England’s regions, R&D, investment and scaling opportunities, specialization of each region and city, and more.

Are you from the Baltic countries and interested in more?

Hold on, ENRIGA is preparing an event or series to be held in Riga and possibly Vilnius and Tallinn, on partnership and scaling opportunities with(in) regions in the UK. Yes, Brexit challenges and opportunities will be covered as well.