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Business News

East Coast rail back in private hands
Services on the East Coast rail route between London and Scotland return to private hands after more than five years in the public sector.
MPs call for energy switch 'refunds'
Energy price comparison sites should compensate customers who changed to tariffs that may not have been the cheapest deals, MPs say.
First-time buyers get 20% discount
First-time home buyers aged under 40 in England can now register to buy new homes at a discount of up to a fifth off the normal price.
Lloyds to resume dividend payments
Lloyds Banking Group confirms that it will resume paying dividends to shareholders for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008.
Wide gap in regional house prices
The gap between the most expensive and cheapest regional average house prices in England and Wales is more than £350,000, figures show.
Putin cuts staff's salaries by 10%
Russia's president says he is cutting the salaries of his staff by 10%, as Russia's finances are hit by low oil prices and Western sanctions.
India budget to boost investment
Indian PM Narendra Modi's government unveils a business-friendly budget aimed at attracting greater investment for the economy.
Passport website sues its customers
An unofficial passport website has sued more than 150 of its own customers after they tried to cancel or refused to pay believing they had been misled.
VW faces challenges as profits jump
Volkswagen reports a sharp jump in annual profits as revenue hits €200bn, but warns of tough market conditions this year.
New rail bidders 'must scrap Pacers'
Companies wanting to run rail franchises in the north of England must scrap Pacer trains, the Department of Transport confirms.
US growth revised down to 2.2%
The slowdown in the US economy at the end of last year was more pronounced than previously thought, official figures show.
BA owner reports soaring profits
International Airlines Group (IAG) reports a big jump in annual profits and raises its forecast for 2015 after a "remarkable" turnaround at Spanish airline Iberia.
Stamp prices set to increase by 1p
The cost of first and second class stamps are each to rise by 1p from 30 March, Royal Mail announces.
Airbus reports big rise in profits
Aviation firm Airbus reports a big jump in full-year profits despite setting aside €551m (£401m) for delays on its A400M military aircraft.
German MPs back Greek loan extension
German MPs vote overwhelmingly to extend financial aid to Greece by another four months, despite public scepticism.
Osborne rebuked on EU surcharge claim
MPs say Chancellor George Osborne's claim to have "halved" the UK's £1.7bn EU budget surcharge last year is "not supported by the facts".
Labour pledges £6,000 tuition fees
Ed Miliband says £9,000 tuition fees in England have been a "disaster" and promises Labour would fund a reduction by cutting tax relief on high earners' pensions.
Judge rules for flight delay payment
A judge rules that airline Jet2.com cannot delay the payment of compensation due to passengers for delayed flights, setting a precedent for thousands of similar claims.
No future for TV licence, MPs say
The TV licence does not have a long-term future and is likely to be replaced by a new levy within the next 15 years, a group of MPs says.
Greek PM vows 'no third bailout'
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras denies his country will need a third international bailout, and vows to "start working hard" to change the country.
Ghana to receive $1bn loan from IMF
Ghana has secured a $1bn loan from the International Monetary Fund that could stabilise its troubled economy.
Sharp fall in UK business investment
Business investment in the UK falls for the second quarter in a row, recording the biggest decline since 2009.
Argentina's love affair with polo
Polo is one of the most popular sports in Argentina, yet unlike football or rugby most of the businesses that keep the game going are small homegrown companies.
The reality of becoming your own boss
Becoming your own boss is many people's dream, but what's it really like to start a business from scratch?
The immigrant who became a drone firm boss
How Mexican immigrant Jordi Munoz set up the largest US-based drone manufacturer, a company called 3D Robotics.
No World Cup compensation - Fifa
Fifa says it will not pay compensation to clubs and leagues unhappy about plans to play 2022 World Cup in November and December.
Chelsea sign £40m-a-year shirt deal
Chelsea sign a five-year shirt sponsorship with a Japanese tyre manufacturer worth a reported £40m per year.
Easdale resigns from Rangers board
Bus tycoon James Easdale resigns from Rangers' board following fan pressure against the current Ibrox regime.
VIDEO: Budget 'India's chance to fly'
India's finance minister, Arun Jaitley, has been presenting the government of Narendra Modi's first full budget.
VIDEO: Meet the men who went part-time
Close to one million men are now choosing to reduce their hours and take part-time employment. Emma Simpson reports.
VIDEO: 'Positive outlook for A380 jumbo'
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders tells the BBC's Aaron Heslehurst there is a ''positive outlook'' for the A380 superjumbo, claiming ''airlines love it, customers love it''.
VIDEO: Can India economy overtake China'?
India is forecast to overtake China to become the world's fastest-growing large economy next year.
VIDEO: Apps in pockets, bums on seats
With the Orange Wednesdays cinema offer coming to an end, Dave Lee looks at other ways to make going to the movies more affordable.
VIDEO: 'Gender balance' council for UAE
Can an initiative to promote equality for women in the UAE really make a difference?
VIDEO: Expanding Zimbabwe's platinum mines
How the Zimbabwean government is pushing platinum miners to build a refinery.
VIDEO: African doll in a Barbie world
Taofick Okoya sells up to 9,000 of his Queens of Africa dolls a month and claims to command about 15% of the market.
The men who choose to work part-time
Meet the men opting to work less than a full week
Is the samba over for Brazil's middle class?
Has the music died for Brazil's middle class?
Apps in pockets, bums on seats
Keeping cinema affordable after Orange Wednesday's demise
Can technology help combat CV fraud?
The tech combating job applicant fraud
Nuclear power: The future or the past?
Has nuclear power had its day?
Are tablets falling out of favour?
Are tablets losing their appeal?
Will Narendra Modi be India's Thatcher?
Will Narendra Modi be India's Thatcher?
VIDEO: Conjuring up some India budget magic
Can India's government conjure up a cost-cutting budget?

Investment Readiness Programme


What is the Investment Readiness Programme?

It’s a programme run by the University of Warwick Science Park on behalf of the Business Links of Coventry & Warwickshire and Birmingham & Solihull, and is funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund.


Its aims are to support potentially high-growth technology & innovative enterprises (primarily, but not restricted to IT, software development, engineering design and medical technologies) develop their infrastructure and/or business proposal so that they are more attractive to the investment community or traditional funding sources.

 

How does Investment Readiness work?

Each client is assigned a mentor who will:

o Assess the business proposition or idea.

o Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the business.

o Identify relevant resources on the programme that may assist the business.

o Agree an action plan to ultimately improve and grow the business.

o Access appropriate debt and/or equity funding.

 

What specific areas of support or resources can be accessed?

These can include:

o Pre-seed Proof of Concept Fund.

o Interim Management.

o AWM Mustard Consultancy.

o Mainstream Business Link Programmes.

o UWSP Business Support Services.

o Other regional services e.g. National B2B Centre, WMG, MediLink, Vision Works.

o Access to Business Angel and other Public & Private VC Funds.

 

What if my company is not Investment Ready at the end of the process?

Although some businesses will not ultimately become suitable for equity finance, they will have benefited from significant interventions of mentors and others, brought about through participation on the programme.


What is the Seed Fund?
The seed fund will bridge the funding gap that these companies typically face in:

o Enabling final stage product development.

o Building of prototypes.

o Field & beta testing.

o Technical market research.

o Identification of new markets.

o Early stage test marketing.

 

Seed fund monies will in many instances be invested in high-risk situations. It is also hoped that the package of support available will limit this risk, expose deficiencies at an early stage and be able to provide solutions.


The investments will range between £5k and £50k and will be equity linked at a fair and reasonable valuation. Often the injection of seed fund monies has been crucial in attracting other external financial support from the private sector as well as the public sector in some circumstances, and may well be one of a package of funding sources including more traditional bank finance (possibly SFLGS related).


The whole process as well as seed funding has been a crucial link for companies proving their concept to the other regional venture capital funds and business angels or private investors. UWSP will, with permission, ensure these sources are kept aware of developments at an early stage.

 

What is the process to access the Seed Fund?

o The client company is identified as a potential Seed Fund applicant, following an initial assessment by the mentor.

o This assessment may conclude that the business needs to improve in certain areas before submission, and this may involve use of an Interim Manager or other resources as appropriate.

o The mentor will help the company to prepare the appropriate presentation/ application, which in some cases is simply be supported by basic details of the company and business proposition. However, going forward in cases like this it would be expected that one of the early outcomes would be provision of a suitable and validated business plan.

o The Seed Fund Manger will then take on the proposal and final presentation to Seed Fund Investment Committee who may approve investment or request further information as required.

o Monies invested by the Seed Fund will be tracked during the term of the project, through regular appraisals, usually through an appointed mentor.

 

Seed Fund Exit
Exits and repayment may come from retained profits, trade sales, MBIs or MBOs or other means. The value and expected timelines for any of these will vary according to expectations and from experience will vary a great deal from those early forecasts.

 

What is the role of the Interim Manager?

This programme is currently able to part fund an interim manager whose role & activities will have been identified and agreed with the company, to provide “hands-on” assistance in addressing areas that must be addressed if the company are to move forward and access equity finance.

 

What can the Interim Manager do?

Practical tasks maybe helping break through the barriers to market, constructing and implementing a marketing or sales campaign, developing the business plan and associated forecasts, it may be over a period of time and involve more than one person - the Interim manager facility may be the difference a company needs to fulfil their potential.

 

How long can an Interim Management work and how is this paid for?

The duration of the intervention is dictated by the need of the business and may be in more than one session over a period of time. However, whilst the Investment Readiness programme would fund up to 50% of the cost of the manager, the remainder would have to be paid for by the company, but the duration, cost and benefits to the company would all be agreed beforehand so the company will know at the start what they are getting and the costs involved.

 

Is there a cost to join the Investment Readiness programme?

The cost to join is £600 + VAT, payment of which can be spread over six months as required. Where a start-up or early stage company is unable to pay the fees, these may be waived until the company is in a position to pay at an agreed later date.

 

This programme has already successfully helped 25 businesses, raise almost £2.4m (@ Feb 2005) and assisted well over 100 companies improve their business proposition.


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