Six entrepreneurs to coach SMEs for Government “Dragons’ Den” panel


By Tony Collins

Six entrepreneurs will coach SME representatives before they present their ideas to a Government “Dragon’s Den” panel of officials.

The coaching will help chosen SME representatives improve their  proposals for reforming parts of central government.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the entrepreneurs will coach representatives from SMEs that have submitted successful ideas for innovative and cost-saving Government goods and services to the online Innovation Launch Pad.

The Innovation Launch Pad  opened on the Cabinet Office website in March and closes on 22 April.  SMEs are invited to submit proposals – up to 500 words – on how their goods and services could help save the Government money or deliver better outcomes.

Civil servants will vote for ideas with the greatest potential. The chosen SME representatives will then present their ideas to the Dragon’s Den-style panel of senior government business officials, following coaching by the entrepreneurs.

The entrepreneurs are:

Jon Moulton, founder and managing director of private equity firm Better Capital and member of the British Venture Capital Hall of Fame

Mike Lynch OBE, co-founder of a software start-up that is said by the Cabinet Office to be the UK’s largest software company Autonomy. He is also a trustee at NESTA

Hermann Hauser, CBE, founder of over 20 technology companies including Acorn Computers, who has an honorary CBE for ‘innovative service to the UK enterprise sector’

– Sherry Coutu, founder of two successful businesses in the financial services industry and investor in 35 businesses, and rated as the ‘top CEO mentor in Europe

David Cleevely, co-founder of Abcam and founder of Analysys and Chairman of Cambridge Angels

Stephen Kelly, former CEO of Micro Focus and the Government Crown Representative for mutuals.

The chosen businesses will be invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street.

Stephen Allott, one of nine Crown Representatives appointed by the Cabinet Office to drive procurement savings across Whitehall, told The Telegraph that the initiative would raise the profile of the businesses within Whitehall, although there were no guarantees of contracts at the end of the process,

He said departments were taking the Government’s pledge to acquire more goods and services from small firms seriously.

Francis Maude said: “This Government does not believe there is a one size fits all approach to delivering services.  That is why we want to make it easy for small businesses to tell us their ideas, as they will have a vital role to play in helping us to find new, innovative and more cost effective ways to improve services to the public.  

“We also believe that supporting small business will help to kick-start growth in the economy.  As part of this, we are doing everything we can to open up business to SMEs.

“We have committed to publishing all contracts online for business to see, got rid of the bureaucracy to allow new companies to supply government and appointed Stephen Allott to represent SME interests in Government.

“Our Innovation Launch Pad means that all SMEs now have the opportunity to present their business solutions to us. I am delighted that such senior business figures have volunteered to help us to get the very best out of small business for Government.”

Stephen Allott said: “I am certain that there is substantial opportunity for Government to save money and deliver a better service through much greater use of SMEs.  If you’re an SME with a product or service that could save money, use the Innovation Launch Pad to tell us about it.”

Entrepeneur  Sherry Coutu said:

“The Government buying more goods and services from SMEs is key. One pound of a customer’s money is worth ten times the amount of investment money to a small business.

“Given that 54 percent of jobs are created by six percent of small, fast-growth companies, this is excellent for everyone as small fast growing businesses will continue to drive the economy.”

Jon Moulton said:

“Small businesses in the UK have a fantastic reputation for innovation. The Innovation Launch Pad is a real opportunity for SMEs to showcase their proposals to Government.”

The Innovation Launchpad is here.

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