East Anglia: Region’s good ideas ‘risk being held back’ warn business leaders

(l-r) Nicolas Fischl, Mills & Reeve – Steve Bluff, Muntons – Chris Maw, PwC – John Allison, Departm

(l-r) Nicolas Fischl, Mills & Reeve Steve Bluff, Muntons Chris Maw, PwC John Allison, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills discuss access to finance at UCS - Credit: Archant

Important product ideas from our region’s entrepreneurs risk being held back because of a lack of finance, business leaders have warned.

A group of influential firms from across Suffolk and Norfolk said ideas that could deliver new products and services to the market could be held back because business is not getting the funding it needs.

The business leaders were taking part in an access to finance event at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) on Ipswich Waterfront earlier this month.

The meeting was organised by Suffolk and Norfolk development body New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Among those taking part were John Allison, assistant director of enterprise at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), New Anglia LEP chairman Andy Wood and private company practice leader Chris Maw, a senior partner at the Norwich office of Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

The audience was told that access to finance is a key issue for firms and while the LEP is helping to unlock and break down barriers more needs to done at national level.

“There is no doubt businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk are working harder than ever.” said Dr Wood.

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“Despite the recession the entrepreneurial spirit of Norfolk and Suffolk shines through.

“For that to continue to develop and for us to see real and lasting growth then access to finance has to be made easier. If it is not, then good ideas will be held back.”

Mr Allison told invited guests that there is a potential pinch point on growth and new products and the Government was very aware of the need to support small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) rather than just medium sized firms.

“I am a business man first and foremost and my motivation is to see a thriving Norfolk and Suffolk because that is good for communities and good for business,” said Dr Wood.

“We wanted to put John Allison in front of some influential businesses from across Norfolk and Suffolk in order that he could hear first-hand about the concerns they have on this really important issue.

“It was good to hear about further plans for the state owned Business Bank and it was good to see that the Government do want to hear more about what we as firms need from them.

“Tonight’s important event is an important part of New Anglia’s work to put business at the heart of the economic recovery of the East of England.”

Mr Maw said more needed to be done to signpost firms to finance and clear up confusion.

“There is clearly a degree of confusion amongst mid-sized businesses around the number of business support initiatives currently aimed at them.” he said.

“Whilst the Government is doing a lot in this area, there is still further to go in terms of identifying and addressing the financing needs for these companies.”

and then communicating the options in a clear and consistent way.”

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