During the years that I spent in industry, prior to my current position working for the UK government, I must admit that I took special pleasure in working with strategic business development. For me, nothing equals the joy of building a successful business, and teams within it. Arriving at UK Trade and Investment, I expected to have the opportunity to help others build their businesses, as that is what we do. However, little did I know that I would be part of a brilliant process of business developing a country – and its international context.
Our Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr Vince Cable MP, will visit Stockholm next week. He will talk about how to create economic growth in Europe, as well as how we can create growth via bilateral trade and investments. Both of these are linked to UK Plc’s business development. But of course when working with business development you need a focus and a plan – in short, a strategy – and the UK does have such a plan. It is now a year on since SoS Cable’s Department launched the UK business development plan – i.e. the Industrial Strategy. The strategy has been created in consultation with the business community and aims to set out a long-term, cross-government approach on to how to support business.
During the past year, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has also developed 11 individual sector strategies covering: aerospace, agricultural technologies, automotive, construction, information economy, international education, life sciences, nuclear, offshore wind, oil and gas and professional and business services. These strategies are not only beacons for UK industrial growth. They are also excellent tools for spotting business opportunities for Swedish investors, as well as a lens for focusing our bilateral trade work. These three components (domestic focus and resourcing, investments and trade), when aimed in a similar direction, have the potential of creating causal loop behaviour, thereby directing and strengthening the outcome – i.e. growth in the economy.
The strategies are not only welcome tools for government organisations, but also have the benefit of speaking the same language as business. Many variables play into a company’s investment decision – but the most important one is, and always will be, the business opportunity in market. The strategies highlight the opportunities and the gaps in the market where foreign companies or bilateral cooperation may play an important role.
And in Sweden, where the UK remains an important trading partner, the business opportunities and gaps are certainly of utmost importance. According to Statistics Sweden, the UK is Sweden’s third largest export market after Norway and Germany. Furthermore, the UK is Sweden’s fifth largest source of imports, behind Germany, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.
As UK Trade and Investment’s representatives in Sweden, we are very much looking forward to the Secretary of State’s visit next week and anticipate listening to some sophisticated business planning, and hearing about economic strategy on both the national and international levels.