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24 January, 2011 - 15:01 By Staff Reporter

Connected team offers free advice on raising finance

David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre

A highly credible team ranging from successful entrepreneurs to investors and sector specialists has helped businesses in the East of England raise over £1m at no cost to the companies. 

The individuals concerned are part of a team of entrepreneurs, investors, former bankers, pitching advisors and sector specialists helping companies that register for the ‘Understanding Finance for Business’ programme which is funded by EEDA and delivered by St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge. The programme offers a combination of workshops, one to one mentoring and pitching (as part of a comprehensive ‘Equity Package’) – all free of charge.  It is open to companies in all sectors.  Workshops are scheduled up to the end of June but, while it is hoped that the programme will continue after that, there is no guarantee, so it is vital that companies sign up now to ensure they benefit.So far, approximately 1,000 companies have attended one or more of the Understanding Finance for Business workshops and the team has mentored companies that have raised a total well in excess of £1m.  The next opportunities to pitch to business angels are in February and March but as pitching companies are selected by the mentors, they need to be in the system as soon as possible.David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre said: “Most businesses need funding of some kind or another, particularly in their early years, and a wrong decision can be costly.  “Understanding Finance for Business offers companies free access to a wealth of experience from people who have ‘been there and done it’. The time, support and advice we offer could cost hundreds of pounds in consultancy fees but it’s offered free because the programme is publicly funded. So this is really a call to action for businesses in the region to sign up now and make the most of the team’s support while it’s guaranteed. “Whether it’s a bank loan, a grant or a more substantial equity investment, we draw on decades of experience. We de-mystify the options, provide hands-on support to help companies make themselves attractive to potential funders and, in some instances secure the opportunity for them to pitch to business angels.”A rolling programme of workshops is scheduled across the region. The first half-day workshop - ‘Raising Finance for Business’ - gives an overview of different finance options.  Follow on workshops focus on specific types of finance (grant, bank, equity).  Investment-ready businesses are given the opportunity to pitch to business angels. They also benefit from a one-to-one session with a pitching specialist who will help them hone their pitch and a dry-run pitch before they do it for real.The business building superteam is as follows: Paul Anson, entrepreneur and angel investor (Cambridge Angels); Kate Atkin, ‘confident pitching’ coach;David Byford, commercial finance adviser and former banker; Andrea Cockerton, venture market consultant; Peter Cowley, entrepreneur and angel investor (Cambridge Angels); Huw Edwards, innovation/knowledge transfer adviser; David Gill (Managing director, St John’s Innovation Centre) and former corporate financier and investor (ET Capital); John Goodger, director of regional angel network (Eastern Capital Alliance); Vince Hagedorn, banker, business mentor and consultant; David Moir, start-up consultant; Richard Moseley, innovation consultant and grant expert; Peter Newton, mentor, former angel investor; Hugh Parnell, early stage business consultant with particular interest in cleantech, former venture fund manager; Janette Pallas, early stage business consultant; Martin Rigby, investor (ET Capital) and entrepreneur; Alex Smeets, innovation adviser and grant expert; Miranda Weston-Smith, Life sciences specialist; Bob Westrip, business consultant.To find out more go to• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre

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