For Britain to continue on its path to economic prosperity, SMEs will have to play an increasingly more important role. Accounting for 99% of all private sector businesses, small and medium sized enterprises are – as George Osborne stated earlier this year – “leading the charge in rebuilding the country’s economy”. The equation is relatively straightforward: without SME development, the UK’s economy will struggle to expand.
Importantly, business growth must occur across all sectors and in every region – no country can rely upon just a handful of thriving industries and cities to deliver long-term economic progression. However, research released this month by UK insolvency trade body R3 suggested that business growth across the North of Britain has slowed. The study found that the number of Northern businesses displaying at least one sign of growth now stands at 59%, down from 78% in December 2015.
Positives can be taken from the fact that the majority of Northern companies are still expanding, but it is another indication that SMEs need greater support. Specifically, business funding must be increased in light of new analysis from Funding Options, which showed that bank loans to small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK are declining by nearly £100 million every month.
IW Capital, in conjunction with our sister company Crowdfinders, has taken action to directly address this issue and help support Britain’s scaling businesses nationwide through the launch of our new initiative Race to Scale. Race to Scale is a £100 million funding drive dedicated to scale-ups, and like our own existing portfolio of companies, the initiative is sector agnostic and open to businesses in every corner of the country.
We are delighted to reveal that Race to Scale, which was only launched last month, has already pledged investment for its first business: Manchester-based Incanthera. The revolutionary oncology company was invited to pitch at Crowdfinders Live on 21 April and in the five weeks since the event it has received £150,000 worth of funding pledges. Securing funding for the Northern business will help the company fulfil its substantial growth potential – it is also a great start to what promises to be a long and fruitful funding programme.