Human progress has depended on economic disruptors since long before the advent of the internet. The internal combustion engine was a hugely significant invention, but motor cars remained rare luxuries until a disruptor called Henry Ford perfected the assembly line that enabled the Model T to be mass-produced at a price the ordinary citizen could afford.
If we define a disruptor as an entrepreneurial business that radically changes its own marketplace, numerous examples spring to mind, from the low-cost no-frills airline to the flat-pack, home-assembly bookcase. Today’s online auction, home-stay, ride-share and crowd-funding sites have generated markets and money flows that barely existed before, to the great benefit of providers and consumers. That’s what we mean by ‘disruptors’ — and that’s why Julius Baer and The Spectator have come together to present the Economic Disruptor Awards 2018, spotlighting creative entrepreneurship across the UK.
The good news is that there’s never a bad time to be a disruptor. But periods of uncertainty — when the status quo is more open to challenge, and consumers are more acutely aware of choice and value — can be particularly fruitful for the courageous, lateral-thinking entrepreneur. David Durlacher, head of Julius Baer in the UK and Ireland, says the current political landscape, including the approach of Brexit, ‘is encouraging businesses to think differently’, not least in their willingness to venture into international markets.
What kind of businesses are we looking for? Entrants may be digital, and about connecting buyers and sellers; groups with common interests, or businesses to businesses. They may have physical products or financial ones. They may be farm-based or laboratory-based. They may offer solutions in healthcare, home energy or environmental issues that fundamentally improve customers’ lives. Or they may be about entertainment and fun.
They may also be relatively new start-ups or long-established companies that have evolved in new ways. Julius Baer, founded in Zurich in 1890 and now a distinctive, fast-expanding player in the UK wealth management scene, has an instinctive sympathy with businesses that bring new thinking and positive change to established markets.
The Awards entrants will all be innovators, driven by people with real passion for what they do. They will have the potential to scale up from local to national and international arenas. And they will come from every corner of the UK: we’ll be running regional heats covering the Midlands, the North West and Wales, the North East, and Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as London and the South.
We’ll be working with business networks and investor hubs in each of those regions to make sure entrepreneurs know about the Awards, and we’ll be naming a high-profile judge for each region to help us select the final shortlist.
The aim of these Awards is to salute the UK’s economic disruptors in all their variety and originality. Julius Baer and The Spectator will be proud to be associated with all the entrants for these Awards and to celebrate with the winners.
For details of how to enter, please visit www.spectator.co.uk/disruptor
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