§ 3. Mr. Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale, East)
If he will make a statement on his Department's support for the business incubation programme in the north-west. 
§ The Minister for Small Business and E-Commerce (Ms Patricia Hewitt)
The North West Development Agency will spend nearly £4 million over the next two years to initiate the north-west incubation programme.
468 Organisations in the north-west will have the opportunity to bid for the Small Business Service's £75 million business incubation fund.
§ Mr. Goggins
I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and for her Department's support for the business incubation programme in the north-west.
Campus Ventures, which is a Manchester-based company, is playing a leading role in the development of the programme. It recently initiated discussions with key players in the region with a view to establishing a seedcorn capital fund. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to underline the importance of such a fund to new enterprises and encourage public and private organisations to contribute to the fund once it is established?
§ Ms Hewitt
I readily respond to my hon. Friend's question. Seedcorn funds of the sort that he mentioned are enormously important in helping more businesses to start up and to grow. I congratulate Jim Keaton, the chairman of Campus Ventures, and the vice-chancellors of many of the universities in the north-west, who have collaborated in different ventures, including the Manchester challenge seed fund, which was helped by the first round of university challenge funding that we provided.