£200 million coaching programme aims to accelerate SME growth

A new £200 million coaching programme aimed at helping up to 26,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to reach their full potential, has been launched by the Government.

The Growth Accelerator scheme is aimed at companies with opportunities for rapid and sustainable growth, hoping to create 55,000 additional jobs and boost the economy.

Business secretary Vince Cable launched the new partnership, which will see private sector business experts working alongside the Government and businesses to identify and overcome growth restraints.

Ten localised partners have selected to deliver the scheme which will be funded by the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS).

Vince Cable said: "The UK boasts vibrant SMEs that have the chance to become the household names of tomorrow. With targeted support we are giving entrepreneurs a fantastic opportunity to take their businesses forward to succeed both here and abroad."

The coaching will address issues such as securing finance, spurring and capitalising on innovation and developing leadership and management skills. In addition, it will also provide support for businesses by fast tracking them to trusted providers of business advice, such as UK Trade Investment (UKTI), professional business advisors and networks such as the Technology Strategy Board and Angel Investors.

Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk said the Government acknowledged that SMEs contribute towards a large proportion of the country's economy and were important in creating jobs.

"We want to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business," he said.

"Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy and we are giving them the support they need to realise their potential."

Director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD), Simon Walker, said the body was keen to take part in the service saying it came at a 'vital time' for economic growth.

"Coaching can be a great boost to a business, and in these tough economic times the knowledge this scheme will pass on will make the crucial difference for many," he said.

Mark Prisk also indicated that the Government was creating a network of thousands of business mentors, with the aim of launching a £10 million start-up loans scheme allowing young entrepreneurs access to business advice and capital.