News in brief: alternative finance, digital economy, cyber threats, crowdfunding

News in brief
News in brief

BFS joins

Independent invoice financier Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has joined (ABF) – a service for SMEs searching for finance.

In addition to matching SMEs with suitable funders, ABF –which was launched in 2014 – facilitates referrals for businesses declined for finance to other providers, ensuring they can access the funding they require.

BFS chief executive David Postings said: “Anything that improves access to finance for SMEs is positive, but it is also important that businesses can find the right kind of funding.

“People often refer to new forms of funding when talking of alternative finance, however, the UK has had a healthy alternative to traditional lending for a number of years in the form of asset-based finance.

The digital economy goes from strength to strength

Recently released statistics from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have shown strong continued growth in the digital sector year-on-year.

Now making up 7.3% of the UK economy, the estimates in the Digital Sector Economic Estimates report state that the digital sector contributed £118.3bn to the economy in 2014, a 7.2% increase on 2013. The figures also show that not only is the digital sector increasing its economic contribution, but it is also boosting employment by now providing 4.4% of jobs in the UK (1.4m) up from 1.3m in 2011.

Digital marketing agency Bring Digital founder David Ingram claims that this is further proof that now is a very exciting time for the digital sector and urges continued governmental support.

He said: “The fact that our sector is contributing more and more to the UK economy shows that it is one that should be nurtured and supported by government.”

Government programme to protect SMEs against cyber threats

The government has launched a new programme to support cyber security start-ups. Start-ups who want to offer cyber security solutions will be able to get help, advice and support through the ‘Early Stage Accelerator Programme’ to develop their products and services and bring them to market.

The new programme will:

● increase the rate of new cyber security start-up development in the UK

● help entrepreneurs develop, test and validate the commercial viability of their ideas and help transform them into viable businesses

● help identify new business ideas from the UK’s leading cyber security knowledge base

● provide a space for collaboration with the early stage startups as they develop.

Speaking at the joint UK/US Global Cyber Security Innovation Summit at the British Museum in London, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale said: “The UK’s strong and growing digital economy is changing the way we live and work. As technologies continue to evolve there will be an increased demand for secure products and services, and this new programme will ensure the best ideas from our brightest minds can help keep the UK safe in cyberspace.”

New crowdfunding platform launched in the UK

Growthdeck, a new equity crowdfunding platform, is aiming to address poor practices of the UK crowdfunding market that currently add to investors’ risks.

The company plans to differentiate itself from other crowdfunding platforms by undertaking professional grade due diligence in selecting potential investee companies on its platform. It will also make sure proper exit plans are in place prior to fundraising rather than being an afterthought.

Growthdeck co-founder Gary Robins says: “In the rush to grow the crowdfunding sector, some of the fundamentals of investing in smaller companies have been forgotten.

“We want to marry up the speed and low cost of crowdfunding platforms with the investment rigour that institutional investors would get and that private investors deserve.”