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Business News

'Rogue directors' crackdown planned
People convicted of commercial crimes overseas could be banned from running UK firms in an attempt to tackle "rogue directors", Business Secretary Vince Cable says.
HMRC 'plans to share personal data'
Taxpayers' personal financial data could be shared with private firms and researchers, Revenue & Customs says, despite concerns over privacy and security.
STV quits CBI over referendum stance
Broadcaster STV becomes the latest company to leave the CBI after the employers' body formally backed the campaign against Scottish independence.
Giorgio Armani settles tax dispute
The fashion house Giorgio Armani pays 270m euros (£222m; $374m) to the Italian authorities to settle a tax bill.
Ex-BP worker fined over shares trade
A BP employee who oversaw the cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 agrees to settle a charge of insider trading.
US 'delays' Keystone XL decision
The US state department gives federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL oil pipeline before determining whether to issue a permit.
Barnes & Noble founder offloads $64m
Barnes & Noble chairman trims his stake in the bookstore company to 20% by selling shares worth $64m.
Pensioners could get death estimate
Retirees could be told how long they are likely to live after stopping work, says pensions minister Steve Webb.
Co-op Group reports £2.5bn loss
The Co-operative Group reports losses of £2.5bn, the worst results in its 150-year history, after what its chief executive calls a "disastrous" year.
Lamb takeaways 'often another meat'
Takeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat.
Anglo Irish bank pair found guilty
Two former Anglo Irish bank chiefs have been found guilty of making loans designed to illegally prop up the bank's share price.
UK housing market 'shows resilience'
The "resilient" UK housing market recorded another increase in mortgage lending in March, according to a lenders' group.
Weibo shares surge on US debut
Shares in China's largest Twitter-like service, Weibo, went up by almost 20% on the first day of its listing in the US, despite a disappointing start.
US banking giants see mixed results
US banking giant Goldman Sachs reports a drop in net earnings while Morgan Stanley sees profits jump.
London Market Report
The pound hits its highest level in more than four years against the US dollar.
RBS: No evidence of small firm fraud
Royal Bank of Scotland says law firm Clifford Chance has cleared it over allegations that it forced small firms to close so it could make a profit.
Tencent brings Candy Crush to China
China's internet giant Tencent will launch the popular Candy Crush game on the mainland in partnership with the game's creator King Digital Entertainment.
Free jail-built bikes for jobseekers
Jobseekers in Derby will be given free bikes refurbished by prisoners in a bid to help them find work.
New teachers 'can't risk mortgages'
A teachers' union leader says young teachers are shying away from taking out mortgages because of uncertainty over their future earnings.
Wage rises catch up with inflation
After nearly six years of falling real wages, rises in weekly earnings have finally caught up with inflation, according to the Office for National Statistics.
'Shocking' rise in use of food banks
Hundreds of thousands more people are turning to food banks to stop themselves from going hungry, says charity the Trussell Trust.
China's 7.4% growth beats forecast
China's economy expanded by 7.4% in the first quarter of the year, better than expected but down from 7.7% at the end of 2013.
UK unemployment rate falls to 6.9%
The number of people out of work in the UK has fallen by 77,000 to a five year low of 2.24 million in the three months to February, official figures indicate.
China 'must allow currency to rise'
The US tells China its currency must be allowed to rise if its own and the rest of the world's economy are to see stable growth.
Steering a company in a new direction
Major change is a challenge for companies and their investors. How can chief executives shift a firm's course effectively?
The boss who wants staff to have fun
A profile of Henry Engelhardt, the boss of insurance group Admiral, and why he wants his staff to have fun.
The self-storage millionaires
Thirty years ago Britain did not have a self-storage industry. Now it's the biggest in Europe. Who are the canny entrepreneurs who have grown rich selling empty space?
Jockey Club makes record profits
The Jockey Club, the organisation behind the UK's leading horseracing events, reports record profits for last year of £22m.
Man City players 'best paid in sport'
Premier League players at Manchester City are the best paid in global sport, according to a new study.
Hearts' banker agrees shares sale
Ukio Bankas creditors approve the sale of its shares in Hearts, who can now begin their move out of administration.
VIDEO: UK could become 'nation of renters'
Almost half of Britons believe the UK will become a nation of renters within a generation, research suggests.
VIDEO: Vinyl fights back against downloads
New research suggests that physical formats for music, like CDs, cassettes and vinyl are experiencing a revival, particularly among younger buyers, despite digital downloads.
VIDEO: Alfa Romeo plots US comeback
Alfa Romeo, the Italian sports car maker, returns to the US market after 20 years. Michelle Fleury takes a tour of the car the firm hopes will appeal to American drivers.
AUDIO: Third believe they may never own home
A third of adults under 45 say they have no prospect of owning their own home, a report by Halifax has found.
VIDEO: Singapore puts innovation on show
Singapore is running a trade fair for entrepreneurs, where exhibitors hope to turn their idea into a worldwide success.
AUDIO: Google 'not meeting expectations'
Larry Magid, technology analyst for CNET, discusses the fall in Google's shares.
AUDIO: Why Danny Mills bought all the pies
Former England defender Danny Mills has invested in the struggling West Cornwall Pasty Company.
Selling globally is child's play
The tech making e-commerce easier for small firms
Cheaper stamps if Scots go it alone?
Will stamps get cheaper if Scots go it alone?
John Lewis celebrates 150 years
What's the story of John Lewis' 150 years of success?
Fire ice: The energy of the future?
The latest addiction to help satisfy our energy needs
Alfa Romeo plots a US comeback
After 20 years, Alfa Romeo returns to the US
Sydney airport go-ahead
Economic gold or nightmare reality?
Indian bike messenger firm takes off
How easy is it for Indian start-up firms to get their wheels turning?
How GDP became the figure to watch
How GDP became such an important measurement

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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