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What is Britain really good at these days?

29 March 2019

12:59 PM

29 March 2019

12:59 PM

I invited you to suggest smaller companies that are ‘potential world-beaters’ for the next layer of stocks in our UK Optimist Fund portfolio — and your wide-ranging responses gave rise to one big question. What are we really good at these days?

We certainly have strengths in bioscience, where your picks included Angle (blood analysis technology to identify cancer cells), Avacta (artificial proteins that stimulate auto-immune systems), BioVentrix (devices to treat heart failure), and ReNeuron (stem cell research). We’re a leader in financial technology, in which the venture capital fund Augmentum Fintech looks promising. Then there’s electronic engineering: you proposed Zytronic in touchscreens, DiscoverIE in electronic components and Ilika in the fashionable field of battery technology. Related to that, the mining royalties group Anglo Pacific offers a stake in vanadium, a metal much in demand for next-generation batteries.


What else? After Brexit, farmers will need to be more productive — and Carr’s, which sells a range of agricultural products and services, could benefit. PowerHouse, which converts plastic waste to energy, will help our portfolio look greener — while we take more controversial bets on IGas and Egdon Resources which control onshore gas resources but are held back by anti-fracking protest: as the UK’s energy gap looms wider, could that be about to change?

There’s a lucky 13 names to light up the Optimist portfolio, following last week’s first selection for reassuring solidity. I’ll be tracking how our fund performs in the months ahead, and meanwhile I’m also looking forward to discovering a galaxy of unlisted, earlier stage potential world-beaters among the entries for our Economic Disruptor of the Year Awards (see spectator.co.uk/disruptor). With so much entrepreneurial zest, you could almost forget we’re in the midst of a political crisis.


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