June 2013

New incubator cooking up a storm

Passionate experts in the food industry have banded together to create a new incubator program for budding food entrepreneurs that aims to help get their ideas off the ground. The organisation is particularly supportive of the newly emerging business model for food startups, involving trialling ideas and products in temporary/mobile settings like pop-up restaurants and vans. 

Kitchenette was founded by Cynthia Shanmugalingam, who has experience with startups and social enterprise, earlier this year. The first few companies have already been signed up, and it is currently accepting applications for admission in January 2014.

Successful entrants will be enrolled on a 12 week program of mentoring and workshops led by experts in the field, being able to try out their ideas in practice during that time. At the end, businesses will be advised on how to find funding. In return, Kitchenette will take a 5-10% stake in the business.

£25 billion price tag on our nation's passion for food

According to a newly released report by Kitchenette and Nesta, the UK ‘eating out’ sector is worth an impressive £25 billion. It has defied the recession trend by seeing the highest growth in employee numbers of any industry between 2010 and 2011 and currently provides 1.46 million jobs. 

All very promising of course, but the authors of the report believe more can and should be done to unlock the sector‘s potential. Top of their list of recommendations comes the need for red-tape to be cut to allow fledgling entrepreneurs entry to the market, as well as a call for the government to do more to open public sector contracts up to small businesses. Additionally, they hope to promote a concerted effort to boost exports of British artisan foods and brands, as well as raise awareness of the avenues for funding such hopeful businesses.

Sunny outlook for the travel SMEs

After a gloomy few years of tightened belts and squeezed spending, consumers may be dipping their toes back in the cool water of the leisure sector. According to the recent study by Pitney Bowes, the travel industry is set to receive a boost once the economy stabilises, with 60% of sun-starved Brits putting holidays at the top of their wish list.

With this in mind, travel businesses may be well-advised to place themselves prominently in the public eye and ramp up their operations in preparation for this impending mass exodus.

Ingenious launches seed pot for creative types

Ingenious Ventures has announced its latest tranche of support for early-stage businesses, in the form of a £2.25m investment pot. It is on the hunt for companies in the media and creative industries that qualify for the government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), a scheme that offers investors considerable tax relief on money put into young, small enterprises. It will dish out packages of up to £150k (the maximum limit for SEIS tax relief) to the 15 chosen recipients.

Ingenious is one of a very limited number of funds with an explicit preference for creative businesses in the UK, and, as such, competition is likely to be fierce for this cash. Interestingly, Ingenious claims that this sector contributes to an impressive 6% of the country’s GDP.

Welsh businesses pushed to realise EU opportunities with funding boost

£70,000 is to be allocated to Welsh businesses hoping to make it big beyond British borders. In an effort to help companies access EU funding for business development across Europe, a mixture of grants and advice will be available to applicants. There will be up to £1000 on offer to fund a company’s travel needs (for instance, to liaise with other companies on collaborative bids) and up to £10,000 available to cover bid-writing costs.

The funds will come through SCoRE Cymru (Supporting Collaborative Research and Innovation in Europe), a fund managing body set up by the EU Horizon 2020 initiative. You can register your interest and find out more by emailing Horizon 2020.

Riding the crowdfunding wave to Scotland

A new crowdfunding website will launch this month, the latest in number of new additions to the crowdfunding space recently. Squareknot has defined a unique niche that it hopes to fill – it will look to support Scottish projects and businesses that are looking for between £10,000 and £300,000. Co-founder Derek Bond has expressed hope that startups that are struggling to access finance through traditional channels will benefit from their platform. 

Squareknot has not outlined strict sector preferences, although consultant to the company, Stewart Geddes, has said that they would like to address the gap in the market in small residential development funding, claiming that banks are choosing to support predominantly large and established developers.

Investors will be able to offer cash in either a loan or equity arrangement.