Young IT start-ups in the Thames Valley area are set to receive a boost under a new initiative from investment capital group 3i and Interregnum Venture Marketing.
Called Step IT Up, the joint business initiative hopes to identify 'best of breed' new IT companies and provide them with backing of between #100,000 and #250,000 from a u1 million fund set up for the purpose.
Businesses can expect to receive more than cash. Firstly, the project will offer marketing and management assistance for up to six months. The venture capital partners believe this will provide the necessary platform for a seed investment from 3i, while Interregnum will supply expert non-executive directors.
To be eligible for the scheme, companies must be based in the Thames Valley region, less than three years old, in need of financial and strategic support and working in one of the following fields: multimedia, intranets, Java, or client-server.
The Step IT Up programme is based on recommendations contained in a recent Bank of England study The financing of technology-based small firms, which found that such start-ups are facing increasing difficulties acquiring capital.
"We are aware IT companies often find it difficult to attract funding and practical advice simultaneously, especially before they reach critical mass," explained Steven Clarke, investment executive at 3i's Thames Valley office. "Our initiative is specifically targeted at addressing this need, helping young companies of today to grow into the major businesses of tomorrow."
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