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Funding Q&A: Alan Reid

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Alan Reid is an innovation growth specialist at RTC North and part of the Innovate UK EDGE programme. Innovate UK EDGE is a key part of the UK innovation agency's investment in the pioneering businesses that drive economic growth. It is a publicly-funded national service available to all high potential small to medium sized innovation-driven companies, including Innovate UK grant winners. Alan shares his top tips for businesses seeking funding.

What gets you excited about helping businesses secure funding?

For 30 years, I worked as an engineer, manager and director for businesses that developed new processes and new machines.  All of the companies were underfunded and unable bring completed products to market in a timely fashion due to finance constraints. Helping local businesses get good products into the marketplace, setting up their operations for now and the future is a real professional joy.

When looking for funding, where should a business start?

Build relationships with the local growth hubs, chambers of commerce, networking groups and local authorities.  It is important to find a proactive accountant, sized to match the business.  There is a lot of good background info online at organisations such as Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Access to Finance, Rosebud and Funding Circle. Always take independent financial advice.

What are your top tips to get a business investment ready?

  1. Clear the decks! Sort out inefficiencies and skeletons in the cupboard. They will be found!
  2. Revisit the business plan.
  3. Be clear in your mind what you want, timescales, exit strategy.
  4. Draft a base pitch deck (maximum seven slides) but be prepared to tailor this to suit individual investors.
  5. Be clear what the business offers, but also what it needs to grow and prosper.
  6. Form a team of trusted advisers, ecosystem support, associates.
  7. Research and find out all you can about any potential investor who shows interest.

What are the common pitfalls businesses make when seeking funding?

  1. Lack of commitment and clear plan.
  2. Out of date and inaccurate information
  3. Lack of due diligence on potential investors
  4. Exaggerated expectations, prospects, growth intensions

What are funders looking for in a leader and management team?

  1. Experience
  2. Industry/sector knowledge
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Integrity
  5. Cohesion
  6. Clear delegation of roles or a least a process of shared management responsibilities

Why should investors and funders be looking to Lancashire businesses?

Lancashire has a proud industrial and commercial heritage and has transitioned from traditional manufacturing (textiles, heavy engineering) to electronics, software, tech security and high-value manufacturing. The county is supported by a number of progressive colleges and award winning universities, business support organisations (e.g. AMRC) and a strong ecosystem.  There are high skilled industries and businesses throughout the northwest providing a substantial talent pool. Road and communication links are generally excellent. The cost of living and property is relatively low (housing, commercial and industrial) and all towns and cities have easy and quick access to areas of outstanding beauty. There is a desire in the county to grow prosperity and success, improve areas of deprivation and regenerate towns. Many areas have been awarded Town Deals and this money is being invested in the local economy and people.  There is a broad and diverse population county wide, bringing a host of skills, traditions, cultures and heritage into the mainstream.

For further information, visit https://www.innovateukedge.ukri.org/

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