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.’





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.”





Universities Mobilise To Support Business and Entrepreneurs

16 04 2009

HEFCE and DIUS have said what money will be allocated to which HEIs from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

Standing Together provides contacts and practical examples.

Standing Together provides contacts and practical examples.

A total of 77 universities and colleges will offer between them £59,240,920 of match funding to help businesses and communities. The total amount of funding being made available by HEFCE to successful bidders is £27,572,834, with the remainder provided in the form of matching contributions from institutions and local partners.

The Economic Challenge Investment Fund opened for bids in January for its £27 million in match funding. It is designed to help institutions delivering short-term support between April 2009 and September 2010. The funding has enabled many institutions already actively engaged in entrepreneurship education, knowledge transfer and business support to boost their activities.

It’s just one part of an increasingly coordinated response by higher education institutions to the economic crisis, and enterprise and entrepreneurship are key features of many initiatives awarded funding and support.

Every university is now being challenged to be a ‘business facing university’ as Government and business look to the higher education to demonstrate how they can support the economy and their local communities.

“Demand for higher education usually grows during an economic downturn” says a useful new guide Standing Together – Universities helping business through the downturn. The guide gives names and contact details at 157 institutions and links to examples of schemes already supporting business and enterprise across the country.

Standing Together has been published by Universities UK, GuildHE and HEFCE, with support from DIUS, to provide examples of how HEIs are contributing to the effort to get British business back on track.

The recipient of the most Economic Challenge Fund money is the University of Cumbria, which will receive £1 million for its activities. Cumbria is one Northwest university with vibrant enterprise activity.

The University has in post an NCGE-NWDA Northwest Enterprise Champion, Jo Chaffer, who led a successful intensive three-day entrepreneurship course that launched a FlyingStart General Business Programme at the end of March for over 30 graduate entrepreneurs.

Other universities awarded nearly £1 million include Aston University in Birmingham, identified yesterday by the Work Foundation as the UK city hardest hit by unemployment. Its Pro Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer, Dr Phil Extance, said: “We’re delighted to win this latest bid, which will enable us to increase the scope of two of our successful activities and to allow universities to help businesses tackle the difficult issues they face.

“Creating a further 104 Innovation Vouchers is excellent news as the previous round of vouchers, awarded under the INDEX project, was nearly three times oversubscribed. It indicates that there is a real demand for support for innovation even in the current difficult economic climate”

Next in the Economic Challenge list is the University of Derby, collaborating with four further education colleges – West Nottinghamshire College, Derby College, North Notts College and Chesterfield College. One key strand of Derby’s proposal is the University’s own Enterprise Scheme, which will be extended to currently excluded groups such as redundant professionals and graduates, or those at risk of unemployment.

There will be 20 incubator access grants and 12 enterprise bursaries offered to encourage new businesses to start up.

Derby’s Commercial Director Andrew Hartley, who helped shape the bid, said: “This support programme incorporates the strengths of individual partners and fills gaps in provision that have been identified with support from external agencies such as Job Centre Plus and Business Link. “The objective of this collaboration is to ensure that support is available at the point of need. Independent research commissioned by the University of Derby found that a lot of people individuals would like to access services at their local institution.

“This programme will therefore aim to offer co-ordinated services through both the University of Derby and a linked network of the emda-funded Higher Education Centres within further education colleges and local authority managed business/innovation centres across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.”

Derby is just one example of a university which actively supports graduate entrepreneurship. In March it hosted an NCGE FlyingStart Rally and Creative Careers Fair where GQ Editor Dylan Jones revealed how he graduated from Saint Martins School of Art during the recession of the early 1980s. He revealed it was a time of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Speaking to over 120 potential small business owners, he said: “The economic downturn in the 1980s was one of the most creative periods,” he said. “People were starting record labels, magazines and nightclubs. There was a huge vacuum for cultural enterprises to fill. Therefore a creative groundswell took place.”

DIUS, HEFCE, Universities UK and the CBI, RDAs, the Business Link network, and many other regional and national bodies are investing great effort in working together with universities to help businesses and individuals. It’s time to showcase the great work taking place at HEIs and support opportunities for entrepreneurship.





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 intellectual property resources

14 04 2008

Ahead of World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April 2008 comes news of two initiatives which will benefit student and graduate entrepreneurs who are developing new ideas:

  • The British Library Business & IP Centre has developed an interactive online information resource to help individuals and small companies teach themselves the essentials of intellectual property.   Intellectual Property – How to Protect and Develop Your Idea is designed “to give users the confidence to learn the IP fundamentals that no-one setting up a business or launching an innovation can afford to ignore”. The website incorporates much of the invaluable information provided by the British Library and brings it to the fingertips of budding entrepreneurs and innovators based anywhere in the UK or the world.
  • The UK Intellectual Property Office has launched a new online Patents Journal service for published patents data, allowing users to search and download published patent information, on-line, free of charge.  The database offers a range of search options as well as providing automatic links to the Patents Register and published documents.

 [Reminder:  JISC Podcast on IPR issues faced by Web 2.0 users in education]





Growing innovative start-ups

7 04 2008

The news that the number of start-up businesses in the UK has reached the highest level since records began 20 years ago is striking given the increasingly difficult trading conditions during the second half of last year. Research from Barclays indicates that a record 471,500 new businesses opened their doors in 2007, the highest annual volume since Barclays started tracking the market in 1988. This is an increase of 3% on 2006 (457,200). Within Scotland an 11% increase is reported in the number of new businesses started in 2007 – corporate services firm Oswalds note that 21,256 new companies were formed last year.

Such a trend requires considered and expert analysis and NESTA’s Policy & Research Unit (NPRU) is launching a new and timely research strand on growing innovative firms. The aim of this research is to investigate the path that growing firms follow; their impact on the economy; the barriers that they face; and the role of policy in helping to overcome them. NESTA is currently inviting tenders from researchers interested in pursuing work in this area (Invitation to Tender: Growing innovative firms), with a closing date for applications of 24 April 2008.

Meanwhile a recent Kauffman Foundation publication, Study of early years of start-ups, provides context from the US experience. This is the largest longitudinal study of new businesses ever conducted, following nearly 5,000 businesses founded in 2004 and tracking them over their early years of operation. The aim is to understand the characteristics of new business formation and sustainability with the intention of informing public policy to encourage entrepreneurial businesses.