Start-ups urged to rise to the challenge

A START-UP specialist is challenging potential entrepreneurs to launch new ventures at a novel business “incubator” unit at BT’s Adastral Park.

Harry Berry of New Venture Partners (NVP) is appealing to those with ideas for technology-based businesses to play their part in leading the rebalancing of Britain’s economy towards enterprise and wealth creation.

With funding for start-up businesses still in short supply following the credit crunch, Mr Berry believes the current climate for new and early-stage businesses highlights the need for true “grass roots” entrepreneurship, based on organic business growth.

The new incubator unit, Kastra, which was launched earlier this year in a partnership between BT, the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and NVP, and already has three businesses in place, offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to start or grow a business largely free of overheads.

In addition, the Kastra initiative involves a team of mentors from within the business community who are prepared to offer their time free of charge to help the fledgling businesses based at the centre.

Kastra operates alongside the Innovation Martlesham project which aims to build on the cluster of hi-tech firms already operating alongside BT’s research operation to turn Adastral Park into a full-scale science park.

“The idea is to attract businesses to the park and to create new ones,” says Mr Berry, who was also involved in the launch of the Brightstar incubator at Martlesham more than a decade ago. While the objective behind Brightstar was to spin out companies based on technologies developed by BT, Kastra, he says, is about establishing “grass roots” business start-ups ? a “self-help” response to the recession” of a kind he sees as a vital ingredient for the UK’s economic recovery.

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Mr Berry feels that the concept of entrepreneurship was, in some ways, softened during the benign economic conditions of the decade leading up to the credit crunch, and subsequent recession, when funding was easily available.

In the current climate, however, with outside investment harder to come by, there is a need, he says, for a return to a more traditional form of entrepreneurship.

“You are not going to get �2million in venture capital funding these days; you need to get right back to good old-fashioned organic growth,” he says. “I think Kastra typifies the way forward, not just for Suffolk but for the Government”.