SMEs miss out on vital growth

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Yorkshire’s hi-tech small firms could be missing out on two opportunities for major growth

Forgotten projects and a failure to consider overseas growth is undermining the financial health and prospects of many local firms, according to business advisers and potential investors.

That was the verdict of panellists taking part in a debate sponsored by Sheffield law firm Nabarro and the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels as part of a series of debates on entrepreneurship that Nabarro is staging in the region.

The debate was held as part of the annual Venturefest event, which aims to showcase Yorkshire’s most inspiring science, technology and innovative entrepreneurs.

Ed French of Finance Yorkshire pleaded with small technical companies in the region to consider ways of pressing ahead with innovative and exciting new projects that had been shelved because of the pressures of day-to-day work.

“In the US it’s common to “spin-out” these products into new enterprises; keeping the bulk of the value but allowing new people and capital to move them forward rapidly,” said Mr French.

“Maybe it’s cultural but we don’t do this in Britain. It could be transformative; generating wealth for the parent company without risking its own viability.”

Andrea Cropley, partner and head of regional strategy at Nabarro in Sheffield, said: “Part of the essence of successful entrepreneurs is being able to spot opportunities.

“Making the most of once-shelved ideas, is important. But, increasingly, small businesses across Yorkshire need to think bigger when it comes to markets overseas. UK Trade and Investment can play a vital part in broadening business horizons and opening doors.

“Nabarro is increasingly dealing with firms with the ambition to grow beyond these shores and through our office in Singapore and networks throughout Europe and in China, we have a the reach to help them get deals done.”

Other speakers at the event included Mike Maddock from Advanced Manufacturing Park-based start-up, Performance Engineered Solutions and Peter Hopton, founder of Sheffield-based eco-friendly PC developer Very PC, and Iceotope, which develops eco friendly server cooling system.

Mr Maddock called on financial institutions and the Government to have the courage to back innovation and research and to remove the red tape, costs and restrictions that stifle start-ups and small businesses.

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