Greetings from the BizSpark Team here in the UK! I wanted to take the opportunity to share a bit of exciting news which happened this morning in our Microsoft London offices. The team at Microsoft UK hosted the launch of Startup Britain (www.startupbritain.org) , an initiative similar to Startup America, in our Central London offices. Gordon Frazer, the Microsoft UK Managing Director, (with Team BizSpark UK in presence!) today hosted Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable, in addition to 200 invited guests, entrepreneurs and media. Over 60 leading brands have pledged millions of pounds worth of support to new entrepreneurs under a major new campaign launched by the Prime Minister today.

Startup Britain was launched by seven founders (who are deeply passionate about entrepreneurship and are well known to the UK BizSpark Team) for entrepreneurs to support small business in the UK. Designed to celebrate, inspire and accelerate enterprise in the UK, it has the full support of the Prime Minister and HM Government with specific reference from the Chancellor in last week’s Budget Announcement.

Speaking at the launch, the Prime Minister stated:

"None of this – none of what government’s doing, none of what StartUp Britain is doing – will mean anything unless people take these opportunities. To drive our economy forward we need thousands to make that step and strike out on their own.

"So I want to make a direct appeal to everyone who’s sitting at home or at their desk thinking about starting their own business. Now is the time to do it.

"If you’ve been turning over a good idea for years – now is the time to make something of it. If you’re working for a big firm but know you could do a better job on your own – now is the time to make the leap. If you’re dreaming about starting up the next great British brand - now is the time to make it happen.

"There are thousands of people out there who are entrepreneurs but they just don’t know it yet. There are millions of success stories that haven’t been written yet. So seize this moment. Take these opportunities. Make it happen – and together we can drive our economy forward."

What is Microsoft UK doing in support of this initiative?

Microsoft UK has pledged to train 5,000 startups in how to use technology to drive their business and marketing activities, including free technology resources worth up to £400 per company.

    • Webinars and seminars to train 5,000 businesses
    • 90 days of Dynamics CRM Online service - worth £370
    • Keywords on Bing AdCenter - worth £30
    • Office 2010 60 day trial

This support for StartUp Britain is in addition to the successful BizSpark programme in the UK which now has over 2,300 technology startups, which all of you already know about!

Why is Microsoft UK supporting StartUp Britain?

Her in the UK, we think it’s crucial at this time for big companies like Microsoft to back Britain’s startups. Just a little over thirty years ago, Microsoft too was a startup. Why do you think I love my job so much! Helping smaller companies is very much part of our business model – there are over 30,000 partners in the UK, the vast majority of which are small businesses. We support UK government initiatives that encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. We are proud of our nearly three decade long track record of investment and partnership here in the UK which supports the needs of the UK today, for example:

  • o We employ approx. 2,700 people directly in UK
  • o Every day, we work with 30,000 Microsoft partners who in turn employ 500,000 people
  • o We opened Microsoft Research Cambridge in 1997, which is one of the world’s leading technology research centres
  • o Britain Works – our pledge to help 500,000 people into work by 2012. After just one year, we have already helped 104,000 people in the UK find work
  • o More than 2,300 UK companies are active BizSpark participants, making us the second most active and entrepreneurial country in the world after the United States from a BizSpark perspective. Hurrah – go team #bizsparkuk!!

I have to say I am very proud of this statistic, having been part of the BizSpark UK Team since before the launch in November 2008. It’s been an inspiring journey meeting / working with / supporting so many passionate British Entrepreneurs over the past 2.5 years, and I look forward to many more inspiring connections to come….

Here’s a photo of our Managing Director, Gordon Frazer, sitting in the front row with Prime Minister Cameron. That’s me in the background filming, tweeting and photographing away with my Windows Phone 7 for all of you!

I did hear, via the grapevine, that Gordon and the Prime Minister had a bit of a play on the Kinect (a little birdie tells me they played Kinect Adventures) in our London Customer Experience Centre. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that one!