Report Launch – A Better Balance: Business Support for the Foundational Economy
This report presents an analysis of policy and practice in business support in Wales and its impacts on the Welsh economy. We argue that business support needs to be reoriented to be more accessible to firms in the foundational economy, and that doing so will have both economic and social benefits.
The launch event will include a presentation of our findings and recommendations, along with an opportunity for questions, comments and debate with our audience. We want this report to be the beginning of a wider conversation.
The report was produced as part of the IWA’s collaborative project with CREW looking at the foundational economy as a policy agenda in Wales.
This project aims to identify new opportunities for policy makers to strengthen the foundational economy in Wales, boosting the position of grounded Welsh firms and ensuring that citizens have access to high quality everyday goods and services.
There has been widespread discussion of the idea of a ‘missing middle’ in the Welsh economy – a relative lack of businesses growing from microfirms to become successful small and medium enterprises.
These firms are regarded as valuable as they combine commercial acumen with a commitment to the place in which they are based and to their workers. Business support can help to fill this missing middle, but the current design of programmes makes this difficult, as many reach only a small number of firms and are targeted at particular sectors and at jobs growth as a key metric.
Our report calls for policy makers:
- To develop smarter approaches to sector policy, informed by engagement with firms and by a wider variety of data sources;
- To rethink ‘productivity’ so that it includes the quality of outputs in foundational sectors, and invest in spreading new processes and technologies;
- To invest in a way that strengthens the entrepreneurial eco-system by encouraging links between firms and being more accessible to small and micro-businesses;
- To get economic development structures right, ensuring that economic development policy has a degree of consensus support and outlasts individual Ministers, whilst also diversifying funding after Brexit.
This project is a collaboration between the IWA and CREW.