The Embassy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Our aim is to create a cool and welcoming home from home in London for Members to relax, meet and promote their businesses, together with the cultural and economic interests of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Please find below a list of our FAQ's.
What’s the background?
The challenges faced by the businesses of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (CIoS) to compete on the national and global stage, whether attracting investment, winning export business, or developing channels and partnerships are well understood. Our initial research (see below) suggests that between one and two thousand CIoS business people are in London every day in pursuit of these goals. Whether they land at Gatwick, arrive at Paddington or drive in, they instantly disperse to customer’s offices, cafes or other informal meeting places. Opportunities for meetings and organised events held in a dedicated environment that showcases CIoS’ products and services do not exist.
So, what’s the idea then?
Many other UK regions and international jurisdictions have a presence in London that supports SMEs and larger businesses. Scotland has “The Caledonian Club” in Belgravia and “Liverpool in London” has a London Hub in Finsbury Park. Using this model, with a wifi-enabled café/lounge area and access to amenities, meeting rooms and regular events, the plan is to create a “centre of gravity”, where CIoS business people can conduct business in London, invite guests, meet each other, hold events to help generate new business opportunities.
In time, and depending on demand from Members, we would hope to host regular events themed around business sectors (technology, produce, retail, tourism, marine, food and drink, manufacturing etc.), as well as receptions for influencers, investors and potential partners. We have looked closely at the successes and learnings from “Liverpool in London”, and such things as mail forwarding, subsidised accommodation, a London Business Address and online promotion and social media are all being explored.
Why call it an “Embassy”?
To be honest, this is a little tongue-in-cheek! However, as the intention of an Embassy is to promote the cultural, business and economic interests of its country it felt like a good fit. With all members being “Ambassadors” of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, we hope to further the interests of the Duchy in London and beyond. Unlike traditional stuffy Embassies, it is intended to be an environment reflecting the cool and relaxed culture of CIoS.
OK. So who will be The Ambassador then?
We believe that we all have a role to play in promoting both our own businesses and the Duchy itself. The plan is that all members of the Embassy will be Ambassadors! Even before we have premises, you can become an Ambassador, at no cost and with no obligation (other than to sign up to our Values and promote the interests of Cornwall for one and all), by going to cornwall.uk/become-a-cornish-ambassador
What will the Corporate Structure be?
We have created a Community Interest Company called “The Embassy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly CIC”. A CIC is a social enterprise that uses its profits and assets exclusively for the benefit of the community which it serves. Our Articles of Association (published at Companies House) define this community as The Business Community of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and explicitly precludes dividends or profits going to Directors or shareholders.
Where is it going to be?
It is still early days, and we would welcome your ideas. Clearly, somewhere both convenient for business purposes and easy to access from the typical routes into London (such as Paddington Station (which as well as the link to Cornwall is the hub for the Heathrow Express and Crossrail), Victoria (for the Gatwick Express), West London for drivers……) would be ideal. London is an obvious first location, but we already have ideas for the future, including early interest from China!
How can we afford it?
Although the ideal model would be to own the freehold on a beautiful building (like The Caledonian Club) for the exclusive use of members, this is simply unrealistic. We have explored various options, including renting serviced office space and securing external funding as well as getting shared use of existing clubs in London. However, the most practical model seems to be, at least initially, to work with an existing operator of a hotel, office or hospitality venue. By offering additional footfall, and potentially a financial contribution from membership fees, we hope to secure concessionary rates for meeting space, accommodation and food/drink, as well as exclusive events and meetings. We would also seek to use/share the "Cornish Embassy" branding as well as encourage use of Cornish suppliers and products to create a little piece of Cornwall in the Capital.
How will it be funded?
Once we have established precisely what the offering comprises, we will set a sensible but affordable Membership Fee which will be shared with the operator to provide the facilities and concessions, with the balance used to promote Membership and offer other services to Members.
What about existing Membership Organisations?
The Embassy is not intended to compete with existing membership or networking organisations such as CCoC, FSB and the LCA, but rather, as a physical location, it will provide a venue for both public and private sector to increase economic prosperity
What about the future?
Once a sustainable operation of the Embassy is firmly established, options around the lease or purchase of a more permanent location may be explored for the long term. Although London is the logical first step, there is no reason why other cities may not be considered or even a mobile resource deployed as a “mission” to relevant locations or events. The Embassy will be run entirely in the interests of its community, and there will be a clear mechanism for Members to influence decisions and set its future direction.
Does this relate to the independence movement in Cornwall?
Absolutely not. The CIoS Embassy initiative is all about developing the opportunity for Cornwall’s business sector to for export from a launchpad in London. It has no Political agenda or slant whatsoever.
Business Survey Results
Thanks to the 400+ Cornish Businesses who participated in the recent survey, and to PFA Research who did such a fantastic job. The insight is helping us with the process of seeking initial financial backing, which we will keep you abreast of over the forthcoming months. The respondents were from a wide range of sectors and business sizes, with only 28% having heard of the idea of a Cornish Embassy so far. In summary;
88% of respondents felt that Cornwall would benefit from having such a business presence in London, with 60% saying their business would benefit
60% say they make business trips to London, with 47% doing so in the last month
32% have met with business contacts from overseas whilst in London
37% said they would "definitely" or "very likely" join the Embassy, with a further 23% "maybe".
Key requirements would be workspace, meeting rooms, events and showcasing of Cornish products
Who is involved?
James Staughton OBE DL.
James is President of St Austell Brewery and has long harboured the idea of a London based Hostelry branded "The Cornish Embassy", fulfilling many of the objectives outlined above. As the Chair of The Cornwall Place Board, and a passionate ambassador for Cornwall and the wider South West, James has remained a stalwart of the concept and driver of its progress.
Cornish born graphic designer Martin Nixon founded one of Cornwall's leading creative businesses over 25 years ago. Nixon Design employs a team of fifteen, working for clients across the UK from their studio based in Hayle and have recently opened a London office. Martin and his family live in Penzance where in his spare time he's assisted in the renovation and ongoing success of Jubilee Pool, Cornwall's renowned art deco lido.
Dickie is a Cornishman who has returned to Cornwall after a first career in the Army. Since coming home he has established a business support company that helps SMEs to develop strategy, streamline operations and restructure teams. Dickie is also a director/trustee of a number of organisations: Morus Ventures, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum and Cornwall Heritage Trust. He lives and works in Lostwithiel.
Robert is a relative newcomer to Cornwall, but, like so many converts, is a strong evangelist. Following a career running Technology and Marketing Service SMEs, Robert is now a Non-Executive Director and Chairman of a number of local businesses, including Bluefruit Software, Colateral Ltd and Anevay Stoves. He lives with his family in St Clement near Truro.
We'd love to hear from you with any comments or suggestions about The Embassy or if you would like to register your interest (with no obligation) in becoming a member. Please email us using the form below. We hope to be able to offer special 'Founder Member' status, activities and discounts for individuals and businesses who engage early.
More to follow!