Help to Grow scheme announced

Help to Grow scheme announced

The Prime Minister has announced the launch of a new £100 million Help to Grow pilot scheme that will enable fast-growing smaller firms to access finance and realise their growth potential. The scheme will provide 500 firms each year with financial support in the form of loans to help them grow from small to medium-size. According to the British Business Bank, most lenders target larger corporate firms seeking finance in excess of £10 million. This results in few opportunities for smaller high-growth firms to raise the funds they require, which typically range from £0.5 to £2 million. The British Business Bank will seek proposals in March from finance providers to deliver the pilot scheme.

Read more about the pilot scheme at:

 

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Campaign to help firms trade online

Campaign to help firms trade online

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a new campaign, Do More Online, which is intended to help sole traders and micro-firms increase their online presence. Key measures include making £2 million available to 22 projects through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and publishing specific resources for small firms. Projects funded under the campaign include the development of a digital TV channel in Manchester to provide business advice. According to Rachel Neaman, CEO of digital skills charity Go ON UK, “31% of small businesses in the UK lack basic digital skills, making them less competitive than many of their peers.”

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Innovation voucher eligibility extended

Innovation voucher eligibility extended

Following the extension of eligibility for the Innovation Voucher scheme by Innovate UK, small and medium-sized firms, including new business start ups, will be eligible to apply for funding for consultancy support from 10th November 2014. Innovation vouchers provide up to £5,000 towards the cost of specialist advice to encourage business growth, and previously were only open to firms in specific technology sectors. The vouchers are now available to any small firm that needs specialist support to meet a business challenge, as long as the firm has not previously received support from their chosen specialist adviser. The type of support that can be funded includes advice about making the most of intellectual property, support to develop innovative ideas, and help to learn about using design in business.

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Consultation on Small Business Appeals Champions launched

Consultation on Small Business Appeals Champions launched

The Government has launched a consultation on proposals to appoint a Small Business Appeals Champion (SBAC) to each non-economic regulator, including Companies House, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). ]

The consultation covers the creation and remit of SBACs, who would work with regulators in order to scrutinise and make recommendations to improve their appeals and complaints processes for small businesses. Launching the consultation, Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Regulators play an essential role, but they need to get better at promoting, not obstructing, the interests of law-abiding enterprises. I want the voice of those least able to operate complex or expensive appeals systems to be at the heart of the reform process.”

The consultation closes on 22nd April 2014.

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Welsh business funding review published

Welsh business funding review published

The second stage of an independent review by Professor Dylan Jones-Evans into the availability of funding for smaller businesses in Wales has been published.

The review recommends that the Welsh Government should consider five principles when making any future changes to the way it supports access to finance for smaller firms. The principles are that access to affordable finance should be available for all viable businesses in Wales; customer-oriented funding should be provided; business and skills support should be offered as part of a package of financial support, not as a separate option; and that the role of the public sector is to address market failures in financial provision for smaller firms and to drive economic development.

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Government support for small firms announced

Government support for small firms announced

A cross-Government small business support strategy is to be published in December and a campaign to encourage small firms to grow has also been launched by Business Secretary Vince Cable. The new support includes a £1 million Sector Mentoring Challenge Fund delivering tailored mentoring programmes, which will be open for applications until 11th December 2013, and a £10 million synthetic biology start up fund to provide seed funding for tech start ups. In addition, Mr Cable also announced the first allocation of funding from the British Business Bank’s £300 million investment programme. Praesidian Capital Europe and BMS Finance have been allocated £45 million to provide debt finance for small firms through two new funds that will be available from early 2014.

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New ISA rules to simplify investment in smaller firms

New ISA rules to simplify investment in smaller firms

Savers will be allowed to invest money directly into smaller firms through ISAs from autumn 2013 following a change to ISA rules announced by Government. The changes will widen the range of eligible shares for ISA investors and potentially benefit smaller companies such as those listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), that have previously not been eligible for direct ISA investment. Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said: “Changes to ISA rules will allow small and medium-sized enterprises to access another source of funding and will make investing more attractive and boost growth.”

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Funding for Technology Strategy Board to benefit small firms

Funding for Technology Strategy Board to benefit small firms

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will increase support for small and medium-sized firms over the next 12 months, as part of its 2013/14 Delivery Plan.

The Delivery Plan sets out several measures to help innovative firms to take ideas to commercialisation, including increasing the budget for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to £100 million, expanding the innovation vouchers scheme, and increasing the budget for the Smart grant scheme to £40 million.

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Make the Most of the Technology Strategy Board 2013-14

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has recently published its goals and budget for the forthcoming year and experts at Birmingham Science City have kindly read the full report and summarised the points that will be most useful for the SME sector.

The full budget put forward by the TSB for the year is £440 million, and they are looking at SMEs as the main beneficiaries of this as they expect SMEs to be the biggest drivers of innovation.

There are a number of initiatives that the TSB will be driving, including Innovation Vouchers, Smart Awards, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Small Business Research Initiative Grants.

The TSB hope that these initiatives will allow SMEs to continue to drive the commercialisation of innovation which they see as vital to restoring the UK’s economy.

For the full article please click here.

Lords say bureaucracy is hampering R&D grant applications

Lords say bureaucracy is hampering R&D grant applications

Smaller firms’ growth prospects are being hampered by the complexity and level of bureaucracy involved in applying for research and innovation grants from the European Union (EU) according to a report by a House of Lords Sub-Committee. The report recommends that the EU reduces the time delay between grant application and receipt of funding, advertises health-related consultations more widely and allows more flexible funding decisions to be made. Chairman of the Committee Baroness O’Cathain said “If research and innovation is to drive future economic growth across Europe, the Commission must ensure that everyone can get involved”.

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