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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Business brains slow to start up
BBC Two series Attachments profiles a young London internet start-up
Welsh entrepreneurs are slow to join company creation
Wales is still lagging way behind in the rate at which entrepreneurs create start-up companies, new research has found.

The numbers of new businesses is 30% behind the UK average and lacks the thinking required to be truly competitive.

Analysts at the University of Glamorgan's business school picked up on "a culture that is inappropriate to the fast-changing global landscape".

Slow Business
30% fewer start-ups than rest of UK
52% firms think local, act local
9% sell with e-commerce
Lack of global strategy hits sales for 61%
Competition centre mooted
Centre would unite national aims
Targets are 'being missed'

Source: University of Glamorgan
Their findings are set to challenge public sector business-creation evangelists at a key entrepreneurship conference in Newport.

School director Professor Michael Quayle will ask delegates at the Future Competitiveness of Wales event to help establish a "National Centre for Competitiveness" at his campus.

He hopes that will rescue the Welsh economy from languishing at the foot of Europe's competition league.

Slow to start

Unveiling the research to Harvard Business School luminaries at the Celtic Manor Resort, Prof Quayle will say 52% of small- and medium-sized companies in Wales have no intention of selling products beyond its borders.

Of the remaining firms with global ambitions, fewer than 9% use the internet to plug in to potential consumers around the world.

Sixty-one percent of global operators said a lack of skills, including "internationalised thinking", was their major barrier to such growth.

Dollar key
Few Welsh firms look for global profit online
And public-sector companies had "an absence of long-term strategic management and an unwillingness to collaborate with the private sector".

Prof Quayle said: "It's a culture which locks in to the status quo.

"This will not achieve the stretching targets of A Winning Wales" - the ambitious Welsh Assembly target of 135,000 new jobs by 2012.

But those findings could be met with frustration from some conference delegates at Sir Terry Matthews's hotel resort, now a firm fixture on the business conference scene.

Recent assembly initiatives implemented by the Welsh Development Agency include the Finance Wales development bank, @Wales Digital Media Initiative, and Technium centres for ambitious firms.

And First Minister Rhodri Morgan - a former Harvard graduate and Wales economic development minister - already appears aware of the need to re-model the Welsh economy using a forward-thinking framework.

International outlook

In September, he visited America's Silicon Valley in the hope its famous entrepreneurial culture would rub off on Wales.

In February, he visited Dublin to see how Ireland had transformed its economy with European Union money.

To put the findings in context, a survey in that same month found UK-wide start-up numbers had fallen by 6%.

But as recently as Monday a government survey found UK small businesses outperform European rivals.

Prof Quayle said of his proposals: "The centre would be staffed with academics and practitioners from both the public and private sectors, together with those who have experiences of transforming economies.

"The purpose of the centre would be to promote a shared belief in the future of Wales and a commitment to enterprise, business development and corporate transformation."

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Jo Warlow
"The business school says the public sector lacks long-term strategic planning and resists commercial approaches."
See also:

27 Feb 02 | Business
UK business start-ups down again
13 Dec 01 | Wales
Economic blueprint is debated
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