Business secretary Vince Cable shared his plans for SMEs. Matthew Jenkin reports the main areas of innovation.
Last week the UK economy saw encouraging signs of growth due to a thriving services industry, meaning the role of small and medium-sized businesses in the country’s recovery is becoming increasingly important. The government’s latest set of measures to support SMEs is keen to recognise that.
A £45m funding package for small businesses has been announced – the first funding allocation from the British Business Bank’s investment programme.
Measures to support SMEs will also include a new £1m sector-specific mentoring scheme and a £10m startup fund to help entrepreneurial scientists get their business off the ground. A new business support website,www.greatbusiness.gov.uk, has been launched to help SMEs access services and products aimed at helping businesses grow.
During the campaign’s launch in London’s British Library, business secretary Vince Cable was keen to address some of the key concerns of SMEs, from new financing options to building tech cities.
Here are some of his thoughts.
On how the government is addressing the differing needs of startups and growing medium-sized businesses:
We now recognise that for most companies, simply being able to access a website to get information is all that’s necessary. But for the medium-sized companies, you do need something more differentiated. That’s why we brought in the Growth Accelerator programme. If you’ve got a company that’s doing quite well in the British market and wants to launch overseas, has a new production line or wants to change into a different product area, you need more than just a website to find out what the government has. You need specialist advice and that’s what the Growth Accelerator tries to do.
We know there is a general problem of finance for small companies, but the real difficulty is with the British mittelstand [medium-sized enterprises]. In Germany they have access to all sorts of funding, but in the UK they don’t because they’re not big enough for the stock market. They’re the people who need the facilities we’re trying to open up.