UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launched Business Connect this week, a new conference harnessing the dynamism of UK businesses to unlock innovation and grow the country's economy.
To coincide with the initiative, he participated in a first-ever LinkedIn Live event, joined by a range of entrepreneurs, SMEs, innovators and young people. In a quick-fire session, the Prime Minister covered an array of topics – from the future of British fintech and how businesses can help the UK achieve net zero to the role of AI in bringing costs down.
"How do you suggest we ensure students have a more rounded financial education to help develop the future business leaders of the UK," asked budding British Indian entrepreneur Shaye Bhattessa-Sharma, Founder of the Football Billionaire boardgame. Sunak re-emphasised the need for studying mathematics for longer, up to the age of 18, in his response to Shaye – also congratulating him on his recent BBC ‘Dragons' Den’ win.
"People should be familiar with mathematical concepts because they're relevant to everyday life. You talk about financial literacy if you want to start your own business, get a mortgage, figure out where to put your savings, and for pretty much any job you can think of. Now even those in the creative industries require mathematical concepts," said Sunak.
"As Chancellor, you saw how I backed business, including with furlough through Covid. Now, as Prime Minister, I'm focused on creating the right conditions for your businesses to succeed," he said in his opening speech at the virtual event.
Apart from ensuring a favourable condition for businesses to innovate, invest and have access to the right skills and talents, the British Indian leader said it's crucial that he also listens to what the people, the businesses, however big or small, have to say.
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"That's why I've engaged with over 1,000 businesspeople since I became PM. That's only the beginning, and that's why I'm here today," he added.
Emma from GSK, Matt Clifford, Co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First, and restaurateur Jemma Austin from Northern Ireland were among the other business leaders who joined the session to put their questions and inputs to the Prime Minister directly.
Meanwhile, over 200 of the UK's highest-profile CEOs and business leaders gathered in London for the Business Connect event, representing the key growth sectors, including tech, life sciences and advanced manufacturing. It comes as the UK government shared the latest data of 11,000 newly created jobs as a result of inward investment since October 2022, when Sunak took charge at 10 Downing Street.
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Addressing delegates at the London conference, the UK PM underlined his commitment to optimise the conditions for businesses to thrive and, in turn, drive growth while also recognising that the government cannot achieve its economic priorities alone.
"The UK can be proud of its business credentials. Through the creation of 162 tech unicorns, smarter regulation and world-leading universities – we've got the right ingredients to double down on growing the economy," he said.
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According to Downing Street, Business Connect will provide a platform for businesses to engage with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's pro-growth, pro-enterprise government as part of efforts to deliver on the people's priorities to grow the economy.
*Info: Business Connect Live