SME Summit: Growing Business in a Digital World

The latest SME Summit introduced delegates to a wealth of expert advice and information about adopting a more high-tech business model and taking the first step towards exporting in the digital world

The latest SME (Successful Modern Entrepreneurship) Summit was held at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London in November 2014. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate setting for this flagship event, which was themed ‘Growing Business in a Digital World’ and was scheduled during the Government’s Export Week (7-14 November).
“It’s a unique venue that individuals wouldn’t usually have access to,” says Claire Wolstenholme, Head of National Events and Regional Marketing, Santander. “What’s more, we had an incredible array of speakers, including Minister of State, the Right Honourable Hugo Swire MP; Santander Group Executive Chairman Ana Botín; UKTI CEO Dominic Jermey; and globally successful business entrepreneur James Caan.”
Schedule for success
Organised by Santander and The Times, the SME Summit hosted 230 delegates from every sector of the SME community. They were given unprecedented access to industry leaders, innovators and business experts – people who can offer experience and expertise, and share the background to their successes first-hand. 
“The SME Summit gave people access to entrepreneur heroes they would never usually be introduced to. It was an incredible opportunity for attendees,” says Claire. “We invited speakers who could give honest advice on exporting and constructive insights into embracing digital technology to maximise business potential.” 
The Summit opened with a working lunch and concluded with a drinks reception where delegates talked to the day’s speakers and were able to network with fellow attendees. In between, the broad schedule included keynote addresses, Q&As, panel discussions and expert interviews. “The benefits of meeting and interacting with other ambitious business owners cannot be underestimated. It provided a real opportunity to connect with potential business partners, especially those keen to export” says John Carroll, Head of International at Santander. 
Santander support
Senior staff from Santander were on hand throughout the Summit to discuss how Breakthrough can support businesses through funding, advice or contacts. The presence of John Williams, Head of the Breakthrough Programme and Steve Pateman, Executive Director and Head of UK Banking, demonstrated Santander’s commitment to help fast-growth businesses achieve their ambitions, above and beyond providing funding and financial services.

“The SME Summit gave people access to entrepreneur heroes they would never usually be introduced to. It’s an incredible opportunity for attendees.” Claire Wolstenholme, Head of National Events and Regional Marketing, Santander

The importance of digital thinking
A highlight of the Summit was a panel discussion about driving growth in a digital world. This dynamic debate saw Santander Group Executive Chairman Ana Botín, Monitise CEO Alastair Lukies, and UKTI CEO Dominic Jermey discuss the impact of digital technology on international trade, as well as engaging with customers digitally and understanding new markets. Following the panel debate, entrepreneur James Caan – an advocate of digital business – was in conversation with John Carroll.
“The SME Summit at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is a flagship event in the Breakthrough calendar,” says Claire. “It’s a very exciting prospect for everyone involved.”
If you would like to attend the next SME Summit, where you’ll meet key industry figures and access a wealth of support that can take your business forward, email:

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