University of Essex experts are calling on the regional business community to provide the data they need to help SMEs and start-up companies go from bust to boom.
With banks failing to lend, findings from Essex Business School’s Access to Finance Survey will help entrepreneurs improve their chances of accessing the capital they need to succeed, and provide banks with a better understanding of the risks in lending to them.
Dr Raffaella Calabrese, who designed the survey, explained: “We need as many SMEs and start-ups in the region to take part in our survey so that we can truly understand the problems they are facing in the current economic climate. We know that many are refused credit, and many more don’t even apply for it, but to grow, and play their part in boosting the economy, they need capital.”
The Access to Finance Survey, open until early July, includes questions about financing the establishment of businesses, whether and how entrepreneurs applied for credit, and how they plan for shortages in cash flow.
The findings, which will be reported to the European Commission in October, will be discussed by researchers and representatives from banks and business associations at a workshop later this year with the aim of establishing a vital support centre for SMEs and start-ups.
Dr Calabrese added: “Too many entrepreneurs aren’t armed with the right facts to help them get credit and although data is collected from banks, this only relates to those SMEs and start-ups that have succeeded in accessing capital so it doesn’t give a true picture of the issues faced by those businesses.”
The survey will be replicated in the Edinburgh area this summer to start to build a national picture, and will be run annually in the south east to gather longitudinal as well as geographical data.
The Access to Finance Survey is one of the first initiatives of the new Data Research Centre for Smart Analytics which was launched in February after a partnership of the Universities of Essex, East Anglia and Kent won £5 million from the Economic and Social Research Council as part of a major investment in big data.
• Complete the Access to Finance Survey at: www.essex.ac.uk/see/smesurvey