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New ‘Investment Readiness’ programme to unlock growth potential of 1,000 firms in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull

More than 1,000 small to medium-sized businesses in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull are set to receive a major investment readiness boost with the launch of a new support package.

Chris Cotter (A2F finance specialist) and Heather Coupland (programme manager)

Oxford Innovation Advice has been contracted by Business Growth West Midlands to deliver an Investment Readiness programme across three of the region’s leading economic areas.

Utilising more than £1m of funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), the initiative will help SMEs demystify the world of business finance, covering topics such as debt and asset finance, grant funding opportunities, equity and the increasingly popular crowdfunding route.

The support will be delivered through a combination of workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one mentoring by finance specialists, all of whom have years of experience in unlocking funding and helping firms grow.

There will also be access to bespoke online resources that will help bosses better understand key measures, financial forecasting, cashflow needs and creating pitch desks to entice potential investors.

“We know that one of the challenges for West Midlands businesses is securing the capital financing that enables them to grow and thrive,” explained Paul Edwards, head of economic development and delivery at the West Midlands Combined Authority.

“As part of the Business Growth West Midlands service, Oxford Innovation Advice will provide businesses, who want to grow and expand, with independent advice and expertise in how best to secure external finance – whether be that debt, equity or other sources. We’re excited by the potential of this programme to help companies in our region on the next steps of their growth journey.”

Jane Galsworthy, managing director of Oxford Innovation Advice, added her support: “Access to Finance is all about supporting small to medium businesses to improve their financial skills and become investment ready. We are positive that this tailored approach will bring sustainable and positive results for SMEs and the economic growth of our region.

“There is so much potential here and sometimes all it takes is a little bit of specialist advice and guidance to help companies secure finance to implement their growth plans.”

There are two stages of support available under the Investment Readiness programme.

The first focus will be on engaging with businesses and providing information and advice on finance. This is followed by one-to-one support to develop specific requirements, such as developing investment pitches, financial forecasts and identifying different funding routes.

The Investment Readiness programme will drive regional economic growth by significantly improving the ability of start-ups, high growth SMEs and scale-ups to gain external investment.

Aimed to support 400 small businesses in its first twelve months with a broad range of practical expertise and knowledge, it has ambitious plans to increase this number to 700 in the second year.

Finance specialists delivering the programme have all held senior commercial positions and bring first-hand experience of tackling the challenges of financial management and raising finance.

“The source of these funds is diverse and includes debt, loans, equity plus emerging sources including crowdfunding,” added Jane.

“Given the deep-rooted ecosystem already available here, the programme is specifically focused on giving SMEs bespoke support to access to finance and become investment ready.”

This programme, as part of the wider Business Growth West Midlands service, works closely with Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub who will deliver advice to Coventry-based businesses.

Investment Readiness ‘Access to Finance’ will ensure small businesses have better control of their finances and understand how to make strong applications for funding opportunities, all of which will provide long-term success for companies in Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull.

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