The Governments Campaign; ‘Building Britain’s Future’ Takes Shape with Investments in Technology and Advanced Manufacturing

17 08 2009

Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced a £3million investment in UK technology firms, as well as a £340million investment in the development of a new Airbus.

The investments form part of the Governments strategy ‘Building Britain’s Future,’ which includes the launch of several funds including the Capital for Enterprise Fund and the Strategic Investment fund, which is aimed at increasing Advanced Manufacturing, to keep the UK ahead of the competition.

The £75milion Capital for Enterprise fund was launched in January, to help growing companies’ access finance. The fund includes £50 million from the government, as well as £30 million from UK banks, which is managed by Octopus Investments.

The £3million investment includes £1million to IT systems business Vamosa, as well as £2million to KeTech, who provide communication software to rail companies, as well as the emergency services and construction businesses.

KeTech’s CEO, John Kearney, explains that he wrote to Lord Mandelson after having difficulty securing finance;

“Since the current economic crisis began, the lack of available credit, even to viable businesses such as KeTech, has significantly impaired our ability to keep growing. As a result, we turned to the Government for help.

“I am therefore delighted that the Octopus Capital for Enterprise Fund is injecting much-needed capital into KeTech. This will play a critical role in enabling us to secure profitable new contracts which regrettably, until now, we have been forced to turn away.”

The £340million investment for Airbus will aid the development of the new A350 XWB and ensure that Britain retains its position as a world leader in wing, landing gear and fuel integration systems technologies

The investment which is drawn partially from the Governments £750million strategic investment fund, will also secure more than 1,200 jobs within Airbus across Filton and Broughton sites as well over 5,000 within the supply chain across the UK.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said;

“This agreement is excellent news for the UK aerospace sector and for the thousands of British workers within Airbus and its UK-based supply chain”.

“The UK’s aerospace industry is world-class and capable of competing successfully with companies across the world. We recognise the vital role Airbus, and its supply chain, play in the UK.

“Aerospace is a sector that we are rightly proud of in the UK. It stimulates innovation across industry, demonstrates our capability to work with the most advanced technologies, and provides high-quality, highly skilled employment. It is a sector at the heart of our advanced manufacturing strategy.”

Click here to read more about the Government’s campaign ‘Building Britain’s Future.’





New Businesses are Key to Surviving the Recession

10 08 2009

According to a Study by The Kauffman Foundation, new businesses are crucial to economic recovery.

“The Economic Future just Happened,” examines business start up’s during previous economic downturns, and concludes that over half of America’s Fortune 500 companies, started up during a recession or bear market.

The study provides a silver lining to the dark cloud that is currently hanging over the economy and shows that new businesses could lift the USA (and subsequently the UK) out of a recession through;

  • Job Creation – economic policy’s top priority
  • Innovation – driving economic growth

“Every generation of start-ups is often invisibly, both a renewal and restructuring on the economy.”

Kauffman Foundation: The Economic Future Just Happened.  June 2009

The media is saturated with doom and gloom stories about companies making large job cuts, or collapsing altogether, resulting in high levels of un-employment.

However, in the background many new companies are starting up every day, creating 6-8 jobs on average each time, thus silently lifting the economy.

A poll conducted by the Kauffman Foundation in March 2009 on Entrepreneurship and the Economic Recovery draws the same conclusions;

“Seventy-nine percent of Americans say entrepreneurs are critically important to job creation, ranking higher than big business, scientists and government.”

(Statistics taking from a random national sample of 2000 Americans.)

Vince Cable, Deputy Leader for the Liberal Democrats, speaking to business leaders in Milton Keynes recently said;

“Compared with a generation ago, we have more flexible labour markets, excellent entrepreneurs and companies who have niches, intellectual property rights and a very good position in international markets.”

“I suspect that some of them will become big players in the world. I also believe there is sufficient entrepreneurial spirit here to get us through this crisis.”

The Kauffman study shows that during the 2001-2002 recession, the number of new business start ups actually increased.

During an economic down turn, people may be less likely to leave secure job to ‘go it alone.’ However, with un-employment increasing rapidly there is a higher number of potential entrepreneurs, who may prepared to take a risk.

Therefore, it seems that the recession does not have a significantly negative impact of the formation and survival of new businesses, and entrepreneurship could be providing the economy with the lift that it needs.





Lord Mandelson launches a £150 million Investment in Advanced Manufacturing.

10 08 2009

Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has launched a £150 million package of funding and measures to help UK Advanced Manufacturers seize new opportunities.

Advanced Manufacturing describes businesses that produce technologically complex products and processes, using a high level of design or scientific skills.

Speaking at the Advanced Manufacturing Strategy Launch in London, Lord Mandelson highlighted the importance of UK Advanced Manufacturing to the economic recovery of the UK:

“The reality is that British Manufacturing employs more people than the financial services sector. We are the sixth largest manufacturer in the world and manufacturing is one of our biggest exports.”

“And for that reason it’s critical for Britain’s fight back to growth and in the decades ahead, for us to back manufacturing. And to back manufacturing means backing advanced manufacturing.”

“The next generation of British entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers will be among the most important Britain has ever produced. And we must back them and investment in them now.”

The £150 million investment includes:

  • £45 million from the Strategic Investment Fund to help develop low-carbon aircraft engine technology.
  • £40 million of support for the SAMULET Research and Technology Programme which will strengthen the position of UK aero-engine manufacturing and its supply chain through new technologies.
  • £40 million of support for the expansion of the Printable Electronics Centre (PETec) in Sedgefield, creating over 1,500 jobs in the next 5 years.
  • £45 million of funding in Rolls-Royce, to build four new Advanced Manufacturing Facilities in the UK – creating and sustaining around 800 jobs and sharpening Britain’s competitive edge in aerospace and civil nuclear global supply chains.
  • £150 million investment from the ‘Innovation Investment Fund’, which Lord Mandelson hopes to increase to a venture capital fund of £1bn over the next ten years. This fund will help to back innovative companies that need growth capital.

Lord Mandelson believes that the investment will ensure that the barriers currently facing UK Advanced Manufactures will be minimised or removed, thus helping to support Britain’s Future:

“We also need to recognise the risks involved in trying to succeed in high-growth industries and technologies at an early stage of development. Risky expensive barriers, especially in the current economic conditions, from which in my view it is the Government’s job to help set businesses free. Our job is to take away those barriers which hold back the development of innovative and potentially high growing companies using these technologies.

So that’s where I believe there’s a clear role and responsibility for Government in making sure we have the best possible business environment and skilled workforce for advanced manufacturing.”


Click here to read the speech in full





Budget Boost For Innovation, Green Tech and Skills

24 04 2009

More details are emerging about the new £750m Strategic Investment Fund announced in this year’s Budget to support advanced industrial projects of strategic importance to the country and the economy. The Fund promises to focus investment on innovative and fast growing companies in sectors including biotech, clean energy and digital media.

A £250m allocation from this Fund will be earmarked for low-carbon investment, while the Technology Strategy Board will receive £50m and UK Trade & Investment, which supports UK businesses trading internationally, will get £10m. There will also be enhanced capital allowances for energy-saving and water-efficient (environmentally beneficial) technologies.

Strategic investment

Innovation and ‘green’ sectors of the economy were heralded as big winners in the 2009 Budget, with an additional £500m of spending announced as part of an overall £1.4bn package of targeted support to boost Britain’s low-carbon sectors.

NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) welcomed the announcement on Budget Day. Its Chief Executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum, said: “Today the Government took a vital step on the road to recovery and the future looks a lot brighter for the UK’s entrepreneurs. The Fund will give a new vibrancy to the UK’s technology market and will bring about deep and lasting change to our economy.”

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths-related (STEM) subjects in schools will benefit from a £2m investment to provide the knowledge and skills needed by some of the sectors where development will be concentrated thanks to new investments in innovation and strategically important technologies.

The NCGE already provides direct support for STEM entrepreneurs – for instance, through new FlyingStart Programmes for Engineers, with the Royal Academy of Engineering; Software Entrepreneurship and Online Business, last December with Microsoft and Agitavi Research; and now ‘Go WEST’ – Women in Engineering, Science and Technology. Candidates have until 15th May to apply for this event at the University of Surrey.

Support for business

The Budget saw a series of other measures introduced or extended to ease pressure on small businesses. Support for business in the current year looks fairly substantial. Chief among the measures is increasing to 40% tax relief to businesses on capital spending – for one year only. This scheme alone is forecast to cost the Treasury £1.64bn.

For loss-making companies, there will be the chance to reclaim taxes on profits made in the last three years until November 2010. A top-up trade credit insurance scheme will be introduced, which will match private sector trade credit insurance provision if insurers reduce their cover for businesses operating in the UK.

The total cost of deferring payments to HMRC through an extended Business Payment Support Service, the car scrappage scheme, improvements to venture capital investment schemes, and various other smaller initiatives is over £3.3bn.

Reacting to the budget on BBC Two’s Newsnight programme, Lord Karan Bilimoria, the Government’s National Champion for Graduate Entrepreneurship, said: “What we’ve got to do is encourage entrepreneurship, encourage enterprise. People forget the basics: that it is actually wealth creation and business that creates employment that pays the taxes that pay for public services.”





Entrepreneurship, HE and the Recession

20 02 2009

entrepreneur_recessionThe debate rumbles on. Does the present economic downturn hold opportunity for entrepreneurs, or is the situation too bleak to yield success? Can entrepreneurs lead economies out of recession on a wave of innovation and start-ups?

Governments and business have high expectations. The higher education sector must also contribute to bolstering entrepreneurship and economic recovery.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has already responded, launching its Economic Challenge Investment Fund (ECIF) to enable higher education to respond rapidly to the needs of employers and individuals during the economic downturn.

Ten larger collaborative proposals will be supported by up to £1 million each in HEFCE contributions. A further 40 smaller proposals, normally up to £500,000 each from HEFCE, will be approved after the 27th February deadline as part of this £50 million scheme.

Announcing the ECIF on 27th January, Professor David Eastwood said: “The new initiative is designed to meet urgent and short-term economic challenges facing individuals (whether in work or unemployed), new graduates and businesses. We are looking particularly to help small and medium enterprises.

“Higher education has never been closer to business. The strong links developed over the past few years put universities and colleges in an excellent position to make a flexible response to current economic challenges at a time when it is vital that we continue to invest in enterprise and skills.”

A vice-chancellor’s perspective

Just before Christmas, several vice-chancellors were called to a meeting with Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills John Denham MP to discuss how higher education can contribute to bringing the UK out of recession.

One who contributed to that meeting was Professor Tim Wilson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, a university that places its relationships with industry at the heart of what it does. Professor Wilson advocated ‘Innovation Vouchers’, such as those already piloted in the West Midlands, where businesses can “spend” a sum – say £1,000 – at a university to get support and advice on specific issues.

“What a fantastic way not only to get universities to support small businesses, but also to get small business expertise into universities,” Professor Wilson said in an interview with Lucy Hodges in The Independent on 29th January.

He also supports ‘Training Vouchers’ for people who are made redundant to improve their skills through short university courses; and he promotes the idea of universities welcoming more ‘spin-in’ companies which need to be helped in the early stages of start-up and development. “This is one of the biggest opportunities the university sector has ever had to make a real impact on economic regeneration,” he said.

Towards a ‘new entrepreneurship’

In principle, ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ should determine what new opportunities are available and seek out the resources needed to exploit these. Easier said than done. A leading thinker on entrepreneurship, Professor David Rae, Director of the Centre for Management & Business Research in the Lincoln Business School, suggests that universities are well placed to contribute to the development of a ‘new entrepreneurship’, “led by education, in which social responsibility, environmental sustainability and the practice of ethical and moral frameworks become integral”.

In his inaugural lecture at the University of Lincoln on 28th January 2009, Professor Rae examined whether ‘entrepreneurship’ is ‘too risky to let loose in a stormy climate’. He revealed that he graduated at the cusp of a recession in 1981 and founded his first business a decade later during the recession in 1991, but acknowledged that the challenge seems greater now.

“The ability of graduates to find jobs and start their careers, and of entrepreneurs to run their businesses successfully during a recession, is of great concern,” he said. “I hope this lecture will start a debate which is urgently needed on what better ways we can create which enable us to do these important things and what the contribution of the University can be to achieve this in the next few challenging years.”

Professor Rae, who is ISBE‘s Vice-President for Education, offered three “suggestions to advance the development of entrepreneurship in the new era. One is the value of mutual and collective enterprise[…]. The second is the need to use latent resources to regenerate economic activity. The third is the role of learning in creating the new entrepreneurship.” In examining the role of learning, Professor Rae stated: “I believe that Higher Education has a responsibility to work with business people and wider communities to create and apply knowledge which leads to new solutions, and at this time that is more critical than ever.”

He added that: “Students need to be enterprising to create life and career opportunities by being resourceful and imaginative in applying their skills and talents to a range of opportunities.”

Rae concluded that: “The University can provide an intellectual and creative arena where different models of enterprise, economic activity and value creation can emerge and be taken forward into the community by our students. We cannot do this alone and we welcome people from business, communities and public sector agencies to work with us.”

With the ECIF fund and a prioritised and more proactive approach to business, many universities are seeking to respond to the challenges of the new global economic environment, an increasingly competitive higher education marketplace, and changes to research funding. The work of organisations such as the NCGE will prove a valuable catalyst for improving collaborative links between HEIs, business and government.





Challenging Graduate Career Opportunities

28 01 2009

Graduates are facing a very tough jobs market. The ‘Class of 2009’ has already had to contend with gloomy predictions of a serious shortfall in the number of graduate jobs available when they finish their degrees this year. But it’s not all gloom and doom if you’re creative and entrepreneurial.

Some of the more entrepreneurial graduates in sectors where competition for jobs is fiercest are already taking defensive action to create their own start-ups. The NCGE’s Flying Start Programme for the Creative Industries, held in Bournemouth earlier this month, received over 100 applications for 33 places from as far north as Yorkshire.

Graduates chasing vacancies at the UK’s largest recruiters will find fewer opportunities on average. High Fliers Research, whose 14th January report – The Graduate Market in 2009 – surveyed 100 firms, found that recruitment targets have been cut by 17% for this year since the latest graduate recruitment round began in September 2008.

Last year graduate recruitment fell by 6.7% rather than rising by the 11.8% predicted by the recruiters themselves. Banking and finance were particularly badly hit. Skilled staff taken on by leading firms will drop by 7,000 to around 33,000 this year.

Mike Hill, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HESCU) and Graduate Prospects, said recently: “Graduates should not panic. There are lots of jobs out there, but they will be harder to get because more people will be going for them.

“There are more jobs for graduates now than there were 10 years ago,” he added. It is also important, Mike recommends, for HR managers to take a long-term view when faced with current financial pressures. “When we emerge from this recession we will need all the talent we can muster.”

Some areas are bucking the trend, according to the High Fliers research report. There are now 51% more entry-level positions for graduates in the public sector and 17% more roles in the Armed Forces. Accountancy remains a strong prospect, preparing to offer 20.9% of all graduate jobs in 2009.

A BBC Briefing for concerned graduates listed seven top tips from HESCU and Graduate Prospects include:

  • Take advice
  • Broaden your horizons to related professions
  • Consider paid or unpaid work experience
  • Do not be too proud to use contacts to get a first break
  • Do not be too proud to take a job you think may be beneath you
  • Be imaginative

and

  • Consider setting up your own business.

Seasoned entrepreneur Sir David Tang has criticised global pessimism in the face of recession. In a recent opinion piece he recommended we shed negativity and think about finding solutions. He called on governments to force banks to lend to small businesses.

The Government is taking action on a number of fronts. In addition to its recent support package for small businesses, a new campaign – Science: So What? (So Everything) – launched today at 10 Downing Street underlines the continuing need for science, technology, engineering and maths subject areas among many graduate employers. Technology and innovation are seen as key drivers for economic recovery.

Meanwhile, Professor Dame Wendy Hall is spearheading another campaign by the Royal Academy of Engineering to attract more engineers from diverse backgrounds. She said: “The financial turmoil and the recession actually give us a huge opportunity to entice people who have studied engineering and science away from the City and back into innovating for the future, which is where they are badly needed.”

For those graduates among the 400,000 due to graduate this year who remain unemployed for more than six months, it has been reported that DIUS Minister John Denham is proposing paid three-month internships with leading firms and is inviting more of all sizes, and from the public and voluntary sectors, to take part. But details are still being worked out.

In the Government’s New Opportunities White Paper, it was also announced last week that a more streamlined package of support for those unemployed for six months or more pursuing self-employment is to be introduced.





New Networks Launched To Boost University Entrepreneurship

21 11 2008

Baroness Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, with (from left) Malcolm McVicar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire; David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Chair of the NCGE; and NCGE Chief Executive Ian Robertson.

Baroness Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, with (from left) Malcolm McVicar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire; David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Chair of the NCGE; and NCGE Chief Executive Ian Robertson.

Around 100,000 students and graduates will get the chance to develop world-class skills as entrepreneurs and business leaders with the launch of the first University Enterprise Networks (UENs).

Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business launched the Networks at a reception at the Microsoft Offices in London yesterday, Thursday 20 November, as part of Global Entrepreneurship week.

These Networks are the first of their kind and will focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM), Innovation and the Nuclear sector. The networks will be managed by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE).

The UENs will aim to establish a culture of enterprise in universities by providing training, advice and encouragement to students and graduates who want to develop their business ideas or wish to become innovative employees. Each network will be further supported by sponsorship from privately owned companies and Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). This will give students first hand experience of enterprising workplaces.

The UENs follow on from a commitment made by the Government in its Enterprise Strategy to further promote and support the development of enterprise.

Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, said:

“Making graduates more business savvy and entrepreneurial is essential to Britain’s long term competitiveness.

“I would like to see more University Enterprise Networks between businesses and investors to encourage this”.

David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education said:

“We need stronger links between business and higher education so that we can make full use of the expertise and talents within our universities and colleges.

“University Enterprise Networks are a new kind of partnership that will nurture the enterprise skills and entrepreneurial spirit of tomorrow’s business leaders, while also helping universities engage more closely with the needs of employers today.”

Ian Robertson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, said:

“The NCGE welcomes the commitment from companies, RDAs and universities in working with us to build the first University Enterprise Networks announced today. These networks will act as a catalyst for closer engagement between business, universities and the public sector, to respond to industry needs and contribute to UK competitiveness.”

“The NCGE’s role is to set up and manage the UENs in order that they create the right conditions for better, more responsive collaboration. The UENs will also ensure more students and graduates acquire the skills for enterprise and entrepreneurship they need to achieve business growth, whether as employees or in starting and running their own businesses.”

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, speaking on behalf of the Regional Development Agencies involved in the UENs said:

“Regional Development Agencies are delighted to be involved in developing these exciting new University Enterprise Networks, which complement our important work to link universities and businesses and create the skills needed to emerge from the economic downturn stronger and better able to compete globally.”

Stephen Uden, Microsoft UK’s Head of Skills and Economic Affairs, added:

“We are looking at a long period of economic uncertainty. That doesn’t mean that business doesn’t go on, or that there won’t be opportunities for those who can take advantage of them. What it does mean though is that those leaving university need to have the right skills to succeed”.

“Nearly half (48%) of the undergraduates we surveyed would consider starting their own business. That’s great, as small businesses are the engine room of the economy, and also where many of the many of the most innovative ideas come from. This announcement and the STEM network represent good progress in starting to change that view.”

The three University Enterprise Networks (UENs) announced yesterday were the STEM, Innovation, and Nuclear networks. The STEM UEN will be led by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) in collaboration with the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and sponsored by Microsoft and other major companies.

The first universities to express their commitment in principle are the universities of Cambridge, Cranfield, Hertfordshire, Oxford, Reading, and Southampton. SEEDA and EEDA will concentrate on technology based, high growth enterprises.

The Innovation UEN will be led by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and supported by HP-backed Micro Enterprise Acceleration Institute, BT, and CISCO, with Coventry University. The UEN will focus on helping students understand how Web-based  Technologies can be exploited in the creation of new business ideas, and in helping small businesses collaborate with large co-operates in the development and launch of new products in the context of the “market”.

The Nuclear UEN will be led by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), and supported by Westinghouse UK. The first university to sign up to the network is the University of Central Lancashire. The Nuclear UEN will play a major role in helping graduates acquire the innovative skills that companies across the breadth of the nuclear sector seek.

A further fourth University Enterprise Network will be launched early in the New Year. The Manufacturing UEN. Led by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) will focus on “Advanced Manufacturing”.

The NCGE’s role will be to set up and manage the UENs in order that they create the right conditions for better, more responsive collaboration. The UENs will also ensure more students and graduates acquire the skills for enterprise and entrepreneurship they need to achieve business growth, whether as employees or in starting and running their own businesses.

For further information, see www.ncge.com/uen.