3 Ways to Stimulate Innovation on an Island

I live in London, but the Isle of Man is my homeland. It’s a beautiful place to grow up. It’s also a pretty great independent economic microcosm. If you can test out an innovative business on the Isle of Man, and succeed with it, it might just be scalable around the world.

What do you already know about the Isle of Man? The TT motorbike races? Mark Cavendish? The special tax laws?

None of the above? If you’ve spent any time with me, you’ll know that I love to talk about it.

The question everyone asks: is it a country?

No, not exactly. It’s a self-governing British Crown Dependency, which is not part of the UK. It is one of the oldest continuous democratic governments in the world. That’s why I’m so diplomatic.

What’s the vision?

After a recent meeting with the Government Department for Economic Development, it was great to learn that the Island has the ambition to become an international hub for tech and e-business innovation.

Not a lot of people know that e-business is the fastest growing sector of the economy on the Island, and it’s estimated to provide 90% of the economic growth in the Island’s emerging business sectors by 2020.  That’s a lot of growth from tech entrepreneurs.  How can we make it happen?

How the Island can stimulate innovation

  • Increase coworking options

Have you noticed the rapid growth of the coworking spaces in the last 10 years (now more than 90 in London alone)? It really shows how the economy is changing to reflect the working patterns of creative and ambitious entrepreneurs. If the Island wants explosive e-business growth, it needs hot tech hubs and spaces to support the ecosystem. Why not team up with Google Campus, Tech Hub, or Innovation Warehouse?

  • Encourage the super-rich to engage with the entrepreneurs

As a place with favourable tax incentives, the Island attracts and retains High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs), especially into retirement. These HNWIs are often extremely talented, with a wealth of expertise and experiences. Encourage them to mix with new entrepreneurs and share their wisdom. Work with them to create investment readiness programmes and pitching competitions. Offer investment tax incentives. When the time is right, they’ll play their part in the growth and invest their capital too.  Support groups like the Isle of Man Angel Network, and connect with the other UK and offshore groups.

  • Support social innovation programmes

Don’t forget about social enterprise! As the government looks too high growth areas of the economy, like e-business, it must still support programmes that have an implicit social benefit.  These programmes, and the innovative solutions that come out of them, save the Government money, provide meaningful work opportunities, and increase Island well-being all at the same time. It’s a triple bottom line win all round. Work with Impact Hub, and learn from them to create new local programmes.

Related around the Web

Build, Measure Learn. 3 things learned while running the social entrepreneurs educational programme at Impact Hub Westminster.

Public Service Innovation – How to support a community of innovators on the Public Service Launchpad, a programme from the £4m UK social incubator, Solve.

Impact Investment Readiness – How to get the right investment to the right entrepreneurs.

What do you think?  How else can an Island stimulate innovation?  Let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “3 Ways to Stimulate Innovation on an Island

  1. I have visited the Isle of Man (needs more trees) when I competed in athletics there. It is a small interesting community. A business in e-business will need to be sure the internet connections are state of the art. I would love to see world domination by Silicon Valley broken up.

  2. Pingback: Coworking – Spotlight on Impact Hub Westminster from Richard Brownsdon // Table Crowd Blog

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