Entrepreneurship is vital for any society to thrive. We cannot pay for healthcare, welfare or education without the taxes paid by businesses and those they employ – and businesses have a life-cycle, as some end, more must constantly be born. Without entrepreneurs, we would not be able to sustain the public services that mark us out as a civilised and humane society.

Beyond this, entrepreneurs bring innovation, find new ways of solving problems, of making people’s lives better. Yesterday, at Pitch@Palace On Tour in Exeter this was demonstrated in spades, with twenty start-up and scale-up businesses setting out their stalls. Most of the entrepreneurs – many from academic and scientific backgrounds – were aiming to deliver social good as well as to turn a profit: companies such as Minibems  and Minviro with innovations designed to reduce CO2 emissions, Mobihealth hoping to address malaria in Africa and Read with Phonics  seeking to help children learn to read. It was tough choosing which firms to vote for, though the eventual winners were worthy victors.

Pitch@Palace is itself a great innovation by HRH The Duke of York, an effective way both to support and encourage entrepreneurs and raise the profile of enterprise and the role it plays in benefiting broader society both in the UK and around the world. David Fursdon, the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon and his team did a great job in bringing the event to the area for the first time. Other events are taking place in Canada, Vietnam, Australia, Bahrain, the UAE and Hungary, as well as around the UK, and since the programme started it has created 3,669 jobs and over £890m of economic activity.

It’s inspiring to see the creativity and the passion of new entrepreneurs – good luck to them all in their endeavours.

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