The Richard Report prepared on behalf of the Shadow Cabinet by Doug Richard of Dragon’s Den fame and Chairman of Library House and Trutap, both of which are in financial trouble at present, addressed some key issues regarding small businesses and the Government with respect to business support.
As Doug put it, the big numbers are worth the attention, especially the number of business support schemes, and the amount of money the government spent on business support services and the resulting 33.5% overhead it attracts in distribution.
The report contained more revealing figures within the main body of text, e.g. estimated £12 billion spent on busines support, which is estimated to be 2% of all government spend.
The report claims that £2.44 billion is unequally divided across the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) with the most recieved by the London Development Agency (£446 million) and the least received by the East of England Development Agency (£159 million).
As can be seen from the document (click on thumbnail) the on-going reforms has resulted in bringing Business Link under North West Development Agency (NWDA) for the North West of England. This means that there is signs of consolidation in delivery of business support services.
If you wish to know more about NWDA, this document is the right one for you. In terms of achievement, it highlights building a world class science and innovation base at Daresbury, and creating an international creative and digital industries hub. Projects and schemes are normally delivered through five sub-regional partnerships, these being: Cheshire and Warrington Economic Alliance, Cumbria Vision, Greater Manchester Forum, Lancashire Economic Partnership and The Mersey Partnership.
RES (Regional Economic Strategies) Assessment Report 2008 highlights the slow progress of development of a high impact ICT strategy. However, ICT business support has now closely integrated into Business Link North West. The focus is to increase the usage of ICT. However, I am yet to see a clear agenda of what importance NWDA places on developing a culture for helping to setup and grow digital product based businesses in the North West.
In the new year I plan to meet two public sector organisations, which have been entrusted to do something about this short-fall. The understanding is that whilst media/newmedia has attracted significant attention and therefore investment, the public sector has very little understanding about how to help the sector addressed by Northern StartUp 2.0. Given that the public sector is slow to move, I believe there is an opportunity for Foresight North to get involve in terms of segmenting the digital sector and mapping out requirements. That is a conversation I am planning to have with my partner, Dr. Angel Salazar, hopefully tomorrow.