The Embassy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
A cool and welcoming home from home in London for business people 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.
Survey Results are in!
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
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 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 County in London and beyond. Unlike a traditional stuffy Embassy, 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 County itself. The plan is that all members of the Embassy will be Ambassadors!
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.
We are responding to a call for proposals for funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support SMEs in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We are hopeful that, following a review by the ITI Board that we will be invited to submit a full bid to secure EU funding for a three-year period, and will know more in the next few months.
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?
The development of the Embassy is predicated on a successful outcome to the ERDF funding process. In the event we are successful, we are exploring options that will allow the Embassy to be established as soon as possible. This could mean sharing an existing facility or renting a small space in a serviced office environment, allowing members to access additional meeting and event space on an as-needs basis. We have not excluded leasing or purchasing a property, for which we would clearly need further financial support. However, before any such commitment is made, the priority is to understand the demand, create a viable proposition and grow once established rather than necessarily commit the huge resources needed to own or lease a building before the need is fully understood. Key to success is a great location, extensive membership and a strong value-add proposition.
How will it be funded?
Subject to a successful outcome to the ERDF funding application, the intention is that it will be funded by the ERDF grant part matched by income derived by the CIC including, but not limited to, fees from members as they join, as well as some Corporate Sponsorship. CDC recognises that The Embassy has the potential to be a strong vehicle for Inward Investment and the promotion of export development opportunities building on the existing Invest in Cornwall programme.
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 during the 3 year period of EU funding, with solid membership and patterns of usage understood, 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.
Who is involved?
James Staughton of St Austell Brewery has long considered a “Cornish Embassy” in London, based around a hostelry, but with facilities for the wider Cornish business community to also benefit. Focus on the tremendous recent growth of the Brewery has meant that these plans have remained unrealised. He was happy to support three local business people, Martin Nixon, Dickie Trant and Robert Salvoni (biog below) when they offered to pick up the concept (alongside their existing responsibilities) in response to a clear need for Cornish businesses to be better promoted and represented “up country”. Since then, CDC, Invest in Cornwall, The Chamber of Commerce, the LEP and others have expressed their support. If this is the first you have heard of it, please don’t feel left out! The idea is in development, and we welcome all your input as we strive to create something of sustainable and tangible value to the Business Community of Cornwall.
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 The Pluss Organisation CIC, Bluefruit Software, Swoop Apps 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!