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Business Secretary Vince Cable today kicked off a wave of activity to boost small businesses, including unveiling the first funding allocation from the British Business Bank’s investment programme and launching a campaign to help small firms grow.

The first £45 million of funding is to be committed to Praesidian Capital Europe (£30 million) and BMS Finance (£15 million) to provide debt finance of approximately £125 million through their respective new funds. Once legal terms are agreed it is expected that both funds will start lending to small businesses in early 2014.

At the start of 2013 there were an estimated 481,000 private sector businesses in the North West, which could benefit from the new initiatives

There have been 83 successful Regional Growth Fund (RGF) applications in the region worth £430 million, and in addition RGF is expected to generate another £2.4 billion of private sector investment, creating or safeguarding up to 94,000 jobs.

1,402 North West businesses have also signed up to GrowthAcceleratorGrowthAccelerator is available for companies with genuine potential for rapid and sustainable growth. The partnership between the private sector and Government will see proven business experts working with companies to coach and identify barriers to growth and ways to overcome them. This will be on issues such as securing finance, commercialising innovation or developing leadership and management capability.

Vince Cable today also set out other measures that will provide support to small businesses. These include:

  • A new £1 million Sector Mentoring Challenge Fund that will enable firms to benefit from support and advice from experienced business people in their own field of work
  • A £10 million synthetic biology start up fund from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) to help entrepreneurial scientists working in synthetic biology get their business off the ground
  • The successful Growth Accelerator scheme, which provides specialised coaching to small businesses with high-growth potential, will have helped 10,000 firms in the coming weeks.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Today we have set out a comprehensive package of measures that will address the concerns of small firms.

“The first investments from the British Business Bank’s investment programme will provide choice to smaller businesses looking to secure vital finance to help invest. Alongside cutting red tape and increasing the take up of business rate relief, Government has already made significant progress in improving the business outlook for small firms and entrepreneurs.”

A new business support website, will also make it easy to access the services and products, including Manufacturing Advice Service, National Apprenticeship Service and Growth Accelerator, that help businesses grow. The website will be supported by an advertising campaign showcasing the very best in British small businesses, to help inspire other small businesses to take steps to grow. This is the first domestic use of the GREAT campaign.

The new measures were today welcomed by Wigan firm Northern Diver International Ltd, a company which manufactures and distributes military and commercial diving equipment as well as specialist rescue equipment.

Mike Armitage, company founder, said,

“We work personally with the Government through the Ministry of Defence and the current support being offered to SME’s has helped the economy no end. UKTI have been a tremendous help to Northern Diver which has allowed us to expand into foreign markets, now being a supplier of Military Teams worldwide.

“I must commend the current government for the way they are supporting the growth of SME’s.”

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“Small firms are a vital driver of our economy’s success, so it is imperative we do all we can to ensure businesses don’t just survive, but thrive to compete in the global race

“We have set out today the start of our ambitious plans to help small businesses realise their potential and the support available to them to help them grow. Government has an important role in providing a coherent package of measures to support businesses, but there is also a role for business-to-business support, with successful, growing small businesses talking to others about how exporting, hiring and business planning can take a business to the next level.

In December a cross-Government strategy on small business support will be published. There are 4.9 million small businesses in the UK, and providing them with the tools they need to thrive is an important task for Government to ensure the recovery of the economy. In December, the Government will publish a strategy for small businesses with the ambition to grow, setting out how it will make it easier for them to do so through a range of measures, including improving access to finance and help to export and innovate.
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