Panel discussion on FSB’s recent policy report, The Tech Tonic, and how to enable SMEs to work more efficiently.

Event details

Members and non-members are very welcome to join the discussion with our panel of speakers on how the UK government can effectively use innovation policy to drive economic growth.

FSB recently published research on tech adoption and innovation found that small businesses who have introduced a large change to their products or processes in their business have seen their revenues grow by on average 15%. Even though quite a few small business owners have made these changes, encouraging more to do so would really help bolster their efficiency and turnover.

It would also benefit the UK’s economy more broadly. Innovation, the development and use of new ideas and technologies, is a crucial element in turning around the UK’s consistent poor productivity. For the UK to truly harness the economic benefits, innovation should be considered more broadly, beyond only the development of brand-new products. Policy makers need to increase their focus on small businesses successfully adopting new technologies or ideas as well as changing their processes.

As well as presenting the key findings from the recently published research report, we are delighted to be joined by an expert panel. Encouraging economic growth is going to be a key debating point in a General Election next year, we hope you’ll be able to join the discussion on this important topic.

About the speakers 

Chair: Chris McDonald is the Chief Executive Officer of the Materials Processing Institute, the UKs national centre for metals innovation.  The Institute was set up by Chris in 2014 and now employs 80 people. Chris has focussed the Institute on developing technologies to tackle climate change and promote digital adoption for the Foundation Industries.

Chris’s background is in the steel industry and manufacturing technology, where he has worked internationally.  A graduate of Cambridge University, Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, the Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Royal Geographical Society. Until recently he was Chair of the UK Metals Council.

Chris is a prominent voice advocating UK manufacturing in the media. He commentates on industrial strategy, digital technologies, and decarbonisation. He provides expert consultancy and policy support in these areas and is the Policy Champion for Innovation & Manufacturing at the Federation of Small Businesses. 

Chris combines his professional activity with being a Trustee of the Redhills Charity in Durham and was previously a Director of the Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust. He has a strong interest in the social impact of business including issues such as economic inequality, diversity & inclusion and sustainability, which he covers on his YouTube channel:

Laura Burley, Director of Government Experience at Xero

Laura is Director of Government Experience at Xero, the small business platform where accountants, bookkeepers and small business owners use Xero apps, tools and financial services to manage their most important business needs. 

Laura has worked in the wider political and policy environment for nearly twenty years, championing small businesses, tech, health and education. Most recently she led the Government Affairs team at The Open University where she played a key role in advocating for lifelong learning initiatives, as well as championing skills and apprenticeships policy for small businesses. Laura is a founding board member of Women in Public Affairs and is proud that Xero has been voted as no 2 in the best places to work for Women in Tech. 

Anthony Impey MBE, Chief Executive of Be the Business

Having started and scaled several of his own businesses (with the first being while he was still at school), Anthony is now Chief Executive of Be the Business, an independent charity that inspiring greater productivity in small businesses across the UK - the organisation is on track to have a £1bn impact on the UK economy by 2025.

He is also a Fellow at the Royal Docks School of Business at the University of East London, Chair of the City & Guilds Industry Skills Board, and National Chair of the Department of Education’s Apprenticeship Ambassador Network which represents 1,500 of the nation’s leading employers.

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