HC Deb 29 October 1999 vol 336 cc1018-9W
Dr. Starkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the outcome of the consultation on the paper, "Addressing the SME Equity Gap-Support for Regional Venture Capital Funds". [96907]

Mr. Byers

I announced to the House on 6 July 1999,Official Report, columns 454-55, that the Government were seeking views on the design and form of the support for the creation of the Regional Venture Capital element of the Enterprise Fund.

During the consultation exercise over 1,000 copies of the consultation document, "Addressing the SME Equity Gap—Support for Regional Venture Capital Funds" were distributed and over 100 replies have been received. The distribution and replies covered a wide range of interested groups and individuals; entrepreneurs, small firms, Regional Development Agencies, the venture capital and finance industries, business support organisations, local authorities, academics and other interested parties.

The proposals for Regional Venture Capital Funds received a significant level of support from respondents. 100 per cent. of SMEs and entrepreneurs supported the outlined proposals as appropriate methods of motivating the creation of viable, regionally based venture capital funds to invest in the equity gap. And over 89 per cent. of all respondents expressed the same view. There was widespread agreement that the lack of small scale equity finance was an inhibitor to growth, especially for SMEs. A full summary of responses to the consultation document have been placed in the Library of the House.

In November, the Government will issue bidding guidance, informed by the responses to the consultation exercise, to Regional Partnerships proposing to stimulate the creation of Regional Venture Capital Funds.

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