Brussels, 26 Nov 2002
Nigel Griffiths, the UK's Minister for Small Business, has said that incubation services are 'too often associated with high-tech companies', and should provide more support to entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities.
Speaking at the UK business incubation (UKBI) annual conference in Edinburgh on 23 November, Mr Griffiths made the comments before inviting bids from organisations for funding from the Department of Trade and Industry's 75 million GBP (118 million) business incubation fund.
'Incubation should provide opportunity for all,' the Minister said. 'Of course, high-tech, knowledge-based businesses are important and we should continue to support them. But that support should not be to the detriment of other businesses. Incubators should be inclusive in their approach and use the incubation process to equally benefit those in disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups.'
Incubators usually support client businesses by providing on-site and premises-based services such as meeting rooms, office equipment, information technology and secretarial assistance, and business support services such as mentoring, market advice, management training and business planning.
According to the UKBI, two in three existing incubators are within the technology, biotechnology, knowledge-based, IT, software and e-business sectors. Research carried out in the UK shows that incubation services considerably increase the chances of business survival. Figures suggest that incubators help more than 80 per cent of their businesses to continue operations after three years, compared with a national average survival rate over the same period of less than half.
Mr Griffiths challenged any prospective bidders attending the conference to be more inclusive to achieve a better balance between high-tech support, and assistance for business areas and communities that have thus far been overlooked.