Despite the uncertainty facing the nation in the current economic climate, there remain many high potential entrepreneurs in the UK. What amazes me is that while some are lacking the connections and resources to take their ideas to the next level, the relationship they have with technology is unique and their originality and affinity for IT is astonishing. There is a lot to learn from today's generation, they are an inspiring bunch seemingly unfazed by the slow economy or difficult trading conditions. Instead, they are focussed on innovation and making a difference, so we must make it our duty to nurture and support them.
With the emergence of Tech City there is a focus on cultivating a new wave of tech and digital communities in the UK and putting Britain at the forefront of technology innovation. Cisco, like many other organisations, has already recognised the importance of British innovation and entrepreneurship and is helping to support the Government's goal of driving economic growth through hi-tech innovation by providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs to expand and develop within the Tech City area and beyond.
At Cisco, we believe there is still a lot of work to be done to take entrepreneurship and British innovation to the next level. As the official Network Infrastructure provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, our focus has been on helping to build a brilliant future for Britain during and beyond the Olympic year, by creating initiatives that have a long term contribution to the UK. Initiatives that will develop and support the sustainable growth of innovative start-ups and SMEs, which are integral to the future of UK business. It was with this in mind that we created the British Innovation Gateway (BIG) - a significant five-year investment of cash, technology and resources, which aims to develop Britain's innovation eco-system and create an environment in which start-up digital businesses and their ideas can flourish.
To date we have launched a number of components integral to BIG, such as the National Virtual Incubator (NVI) - a public technology network, which allows entrepreneurs and start-ups to connect and collaborate with other businesses, partners, advisors and investors; and the BIG Awards - an annual open innovation competition which provides the great minds of today with an opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas and be rewarded with the mentoring, resources and investment they need to prosper. Yet while it is important we provide these resources and opportunities that entrepreneurs really need to get their ideas off the ground, it is also vital that entrepreneurs start to believe in themselves and take full advantage of the opportunities available. With the right resources, support and determination, ideas and businesses can be turned into global success stories.
As a nation, the UK has a great opportunity to kick start a new generation of entrepreneurism. There is no reason why the next Google or Twitter can't come from the UK. With one of the world's strongest digital markets and the ICT, software and digital content sectors worth £100bn combined, we can really put Britain at the forefront of technology innovation. By nurturing the innovators of today, we can ensure that Britain fulfils its potential as a global technology hub and BIG is an integral component in our mission to do so! We believe that together with the government and other partners we can truly help inspire the minds of the entrepreneurs of today and build a brilliant future for Britain.