South West Regional Skills Enterprise and Employment Analysis 2007/2008
5.3 Stimulating enterprise
5.3.2 Delivering support to enterprise
Encouraging business start ups and successful trading thereafter is an important priority for the region, and the simplification of business support is intended to assist this. Recent developments, such as devolution of business support delivery and the business support simplification agenda, should allow for an enhanced ‘offer’ to the region’s businesses.
Business Link currently focuses support on:
A New Model: Introducing a new model for business support services in the South West(90), points to a wealth of research and anecdotal evidence about business support in South West England and points to how those services could be better delivered. In particular, research has shown that:
A major effort is underway to improve the Business Link service further and to reinforce its position as the primary source of business advice. The South West RDA (SWRDA) is working with other providers of business support on a regional model that has the following aims:
The SWRDA currently has responsibility for contracting Business Link services in the region. Business Link structures are currently being re-organised within the region into two zones with a range of integrated services. The Business Link brand will remain the gateway to business support but will focus on three core areas: Information, Diagnosis and Brokerage IDB):
The South West CSR submission also calls for on-going dialogue with government departments, and national and regional agencies to ensure that future business support initiatives complement the simplification agenda.
In contracting for Business Link services in the region, the recently launched Business Link Prospectus asks the successful organisation(s) to deliver more than the core IDB model. The Prospectus also requires a Business Link service that is responsive to regional priorities and meets the needs of the sub-regional economy and businesses. Proposed services should, “seek to maximise GVA through support to businesses with potential for growth”. Bidding organisations should also set out how they would encourage additional access to core IDB services by hard-to-reach customers and under-represented groups such as women entrepreneurs, black and minority ethnics, social enterprises, deprived communities and rural businesses. A focus on strategic issues such as sustainability and resource efficiency is also required. It is anticipated that this will enable business support activities to be accessed by disadvantaged groups and communities.
Finally, the inability to access a sufficiently high speed broadband
connection is still a significant problem for some remote rural areas
in the region. This has a bearing on rural businesses being able to exploit
ICT to its full potential and being able to access web-based tools and
training effectively. According to analysis carried out on the national
Annual Small Business Survey 2004. One-in-twenty small businesses in
rural villages and dispersed dwellings cited “lack of broadband
access as an obstacle to success”. However, the same study also
shows evidence of ICT being used to overcome the obstacle of remoteness,
with a clear increase in ICT use with decreasing settlement size. In
dispersed dwellings, businesses are more likely than in all other types
of area to use ICT.
(90) A New Model: Introducing a new model for business support services
in the South West, 2006, RDA
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