£1M fund for Midlands tech entrepreneurs

By on 06/10/2011 in News

A new scheme designed to help fledgling technology businesses secure a share of a £1 million equity funding pot has been launched by Birmingham City Council, with the support of Birmingham Science Park, Aston (BSPA).

In scenes that are likely to be reminiscent of television's Dragon's Den, budding entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of senior figures from the city, in the hope of securing between £20,000 – £100,000.The fund, which will be managed  by Finance Birmingham, is targeted at start-up technology companies, including those that have qualified from BSPA's Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) or Oxygen Accelerator business incubation programmes and are in the first stages of seeking funding.

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chairman of Birmingham Science Park said: “The creation of this new fund is phenomenal news for the city, for the Science Park - and most importantly for the many fledgling technology businesses we know are out there, but need some equity investment to help grow their businesses.

“We see the growth of SMEs, particularly in sectors like technology, as absolutely essential for growing Birmingham's economy in the future - so I welcome this scheme with open arms, and hope we will might even see some of the next big names in the technology world starting out here, with our support.”

Simon Jenner, Head of Incubation at Birmingham Science Park Aston, said: “We see a phenomenal number of really outstanding businesses coming through the e4f and Oxygen Accelerator schemes, demonstrating a massive amount of potential.

 “Unfortunately, not all of these businesses go on to become profitable and we identified that a major reason for this is that while they may have outstanding and innovative ideas, they fail to secure seed funding.  For small businesses that have just graduated from programmes such as e4f or the Oxygen Accelerator, commercial business opportunities can present too great a risk.

“This fund is a great starting point, however it cannot stand in isolation; if we allocate £100,000 to ten businesses we will have exhausted the pot.  I truly hope that we will be able to continue to work with Finance Birmingham on similar funding projects in the future to maintain momentum in tech-based businesses in Birmingham and the West Midlands.”

The panel to which the entrepreneurs will pitch which will be led by Finance Birmingham and will feature representatives from Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Science Park Aston.

Sue Summers, Chief Executive, Finance Birmingham, said: “The city of Birmingham has a great pool of creative talent across the entire technology sector, however like the industry as a whole, we lack the seed funding that is necessary to give these companies the boost that they need to really get off the ground.

“Birmingham's prominence as a leading innovator in the digital economy is continuing to rise and we need to capitalise on this.  I hope that by working with Birmingham Science Park Aston, we will continue to be able to offer start-up technology businesses the support that they need to ensure that we do not lose some truly innovative ideas and products.”

The first round of funding pitches will be held on xxx at xxx.

For more information on Birmingham Science Park Aston, please visit www.bsp-a.com

Notes to Editors
Located on the edge of the city centre, Birmingham Science Park Aston is one of a select number of urban science parks within the UK.  The 14 acre park is wholly owned by Birmingham City Council.

To be eligible to apply for a place within the incubator, start-ups must be less than a year old, must be, or be capable of becoming a Ltd company. The business idea must be innovative and the founder must be willing to relocate or establish the business at the e4f incubator at BSPA.   Businesses should be operating in the Digital Media, ICT, Med Tech or Clean Tech sectors.

The e4f programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For further information, please contact Daniel Hill at Core on 0121 643 8151.

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