Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Growth Vouchers

With the start-up scene now widely recognised as a fundamental part of the UK’s economic recovery and future growth, the government continues to put their weight behind small businesses. Lord Young recently announced a £30m allocation for small firms seeking professional advice, aptly named 'Growth Vouchers'. 

Growth Vouchers are designed to encourage and assist SMEs and start-ups in obtaining professional  advice in a broad spectrum of areas, including:

  • raising finance and managing cash flow;
  • recruiting and developing staff;
  • improving leadership and management skills;
  • marketing;
  • attracting and keeping customers; and
  • making the most of digital technology.

Growth Vouchers can be worth up to £2,000 but must be match-funded by the start-up or SME. As long as the start-up meets the eligibility requirements on application they will be pooled. In its test phase, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office's Behavioral Insights team will pick successful applicants at random to benefit from the scheme. 

This initiative is designed to drive innovation and underpin the growth of the start-up scene. The London tech scene is as complex and diverse as it is brilliant, and whilst some companies are quick to take up professional advice others are less forthcoming. It is hoped that this initiative will bolster access to professionals and consequently, the likelihood of start-up success.

At the launch of the initiative at Somerset House Lord Young said “Most companies, when they are launching a new product or service, do a lot of research before they enter the market. With Growth Vouchers, the Government is doing just that to work out the value of early stage advice for the growing number of start-up, micro and small businesses.” This sentiment is great news for the start-up market and the advice given can be vital to developing a robust business strategy to turn entrepreneurs' 'light bulb moments' into actual product launches.

London is a focal point for the start-up scene yet even with such incentives as Growth Vouchers it is important to understand that it is still a start-up itself with the ecosystem of professional advisors still becoming accustomed to the needs of the start-up.

As Hussein Kanji of Hoxton Ventures states “The ecosystem itself is still a start-up. And it takes time for it to grow”. The Growth Voucher initiative is on cue to assist with this.


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