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The Future List: Kent has created an environment where innovative firms can thrive

by James Beatton, partner at Cripps

It is great to see such a diverse range of innovative businesses making the Future List, from global businesses like Pfizer through to family-owned ones like Bedfont Scientific.

Many of these companies are not recognised household names, but the impact of their work has the potential to be felt on a global scale.

Kent has become a region where innovative, entrepreneurial businesses feel they can base themselves and flourish.

Cripps partner James Beatton
Cripps partner James Beatton

The establishment of Enterprise Zones at Discovery Park (the former Pfizer research centre) and more recently, the North Kent Enterprise Zone, encourages an environment where businesses want to come – not just because of preferential business rate discounts and other incentive schemes but because these spaces create attractive places to work, with good facilities, where like-minded businesses can connect, share ideas and collaborate.

When you put all those things in the mix and see the results coming out of some of these businesses, it is a real endorsement of the investment – both financially and in other senses – which has gone into places like Discovery Park, as well as other business parks like Kent Science Park and the universities in the county, from which several of these business ideas originated.

There are several notable characteristics of innovative businesses and you can see these running through the Future List. Firstly, having a clear purpose or goal, secondly investing in the people who can make it a reality and finally having robust processes to help them get there.

It sounds simple but I’m always surprised by the number of companies that don’t invest the time and resource to understand what needs to be done to ensure they remain viable as they move forward.

Businesses are naturally concerned with the short-term pounds and pence but that can often stifle innovation and investment.

It is absolutely vital to have a culture of innovation where people share ideas and feel they are truly a part of the business.

That is not just about managing the team – all the stakeholders in a business need to feel part of something. Most good businesses are as much about their people as they are about their products.

When you think of innovation you don’t necessarily think about the big corporates which are often perceived as being unable to compete with the agility of newer, ‘disruptor’ companies, who are less shackled by red tape and multiple layers of decision making.

However, they have the advantage of experience, tried and tested processes, the skills and resources.

I’m staggered by the quality of these 25 businesses and their fantastic ideas which are helping to improve people’s lives and change the way we live – from finding ways to make our environment more sustainable, like Elvis & Kresse and Flute Upcycling, to improving our well-being, like Quvium and Centauri Therapeutics.

Long may their success continue.

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