We’re helping firms to step on the gas

BUSINESS PANEL: The Citizen's panel of 'dragons' was, from left, business author Kim Hills-Spedding, Citizen business editor David Tooley, chairman of MK Business Leaders, Dr Philip Smith, Citizen commercial director Kerry Drucker and Barclays' regional business director Neil Fewtrell
BUSINESS PANEL: The Citizen's panel of 'dragons' was, from left, business author Kim Hills-Spedding, Citizen business editor David Tooley, chairman of MK Business Leaders, Dr Philip Smith, Citizen commercial director Kerry Drucker and Barclays' regional business director Neil Fewtrell
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THREE brilliant young businesses have won free advertising and advice from business leaders to help them go for growth.

After hearing eight companies give their pitches the Citizen’s Local Business Accelerators panel chose firms from very different sectors to help on their path to growth.

Local Business Accelerators logo

Local Business Accelerators logo

The winning companies were eco-friendly lighting specialists MK Lamps, in Linford Wood, outdoor fitness experts FitMK.com, in Middleton and outbound telephone marketing business Xen Consultants, currently in Wolverton Mill.

Judging the entries were Dr Philip Smith, chairman of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership, Neil Fewtrell, regional business director at Barclays, business author Kim Hills-Spedding, Citizen commercial director Kerry Drucker and Citizen business editor David Tooley.

Dr Smith was ‘pleasantly surprised’ by all the candidates. “It was encouraging to see all the good innovative things happening in Milton Keynes,” he said.

He hopes to introduce them to the MK Gateway innovation team to further assist with development of the winners.

Mr Fewtrell added despite the ‘doom and gloom’ in the media, there is a lot of positivity in the economy and ‘enthusiasm in the business community.”

Mr Hills-Spedding added he was “never amazed” by the amount of entrepreneurial spirit in the economy and was glad to see it reflected in the Local Business Accelerators.

And looking forward to the free campaign, Mr Drucker added: “With our help and support we can take them to the next level.”

The winners, their mentors and Citizen advertising professionals will be making contact over the next few weeks to get started on designing their advertising and mentoring package.

The Local Business Acclerators competition was backed by Prime Minister David Cameron. It has involved newspaper titles across the country.

Mr Cameron has highlighted the role of the local newspaper industry in supporting British business.

The Prime Minister extended his congratulations to the winning businesses who will receive a substantial allocation of free advertising and mentoring from local business leaders.

Mr Cameron said: “Congratulations to all the winners of the Local Business Accelerators scheme. It’s brilliant that so many promising young companies, from such a wide range of sectors, are benefiting from this excellent initiative.

“Entrepreneurship, creativity and ambition are essential for our economic recovery and through Local Business Accelerators, newspapers such as the Citizen are supporting some great new British businesses to grow, and helping to boost their local economy.

“I wish the newspapers, businesses and their mentors every success over the coming months.”

Later in the year, one business will go on to be crowned the overall Local Business Accelerators winner and receive mentoring from the campaign’s national ambassador Deborah Meaden, of Dragon’s Den.

Backed by high profile figures including the Prime Minister and the CBI’s John Cridland, the campaign has seen the local newspaper industry come together to deliver a shot in the arm for British business.

Local Business Accelerators has also received the support of Stephen Welton, Business Growth Fund chief executive, who said the initiative was providing a “powerful boost” to young businesses.

Mr Welton said: “I am delighted to lend my support to the Local Business Accelerators initiative which is offering a powerful boost to young businesses throughout the UK.

“Clearly economic conditions continue to be challenging; but we need businesses to be considering the opportunities and focusing on what they can influence. When growth is harder to achieve, history tells us that the most successful companies are not those with defensive strategies.”

The Business Growth Fund has contributed to Local Business Accelerators by offering a series of free half day workshop sessions at its regional centres to winning businesses.

Mr Welton added: “Our workshops will help business owners to think about how they can expand; how they can reach new audiences and new markets; how they can begin exporting; and how they can raise the capital that they might need to fund their ambitions.

“The question that BGF will be addressing in 2012 is how best can we find, encourage and support ambitious business owners.

“The Local Business Accelerators scheme is playing a vital role in furthering this ambition.”