SME news in brief: alternative finance, tech, apprenticeships

SME news in brief
SME news in brief

Demand for alternative finance expected to soar

More than half (53%) of small business owners expect demand for alternative finance – including forms such as property finance, crowdsourcing, invoice finance and asset finance, to increase over the next two years while just 6% think it will decline.

Amicus Finance’s report showed that small firms predict demand for alternative finance will increase by an average of 28% over the next two years. This represents an increase of 2% from last year’s survey2 where 26% forecasted growth.

In 2015 the combined market activity for the UK online alternative finance industry grew to £3.2 billion, representing an 84% increase compared to the £1.74 billion in 20143.

Support for tech start-ups in East England

TechEast ( ) has launched a four year plan to underpin the creation of 5,000 new digital technology roles in the East of England. This will be executed through provision of support to existing and start-up companies and launching of initiatives to help drive growth – including a TechEast embassy to launch in London this summer.

Tech Nation Report 2016 from Tech City UK launched in February this year, found 152,136 digital tech jobs in the East of England, with tech companies accounting for £4.6bn in economic value. The main tech centres in the East are Cambridge (18,532 jobs), Ipswich (9,981 jobs) and Norwich (5,306 jobs) – adding the 5,000 new jobs equals a proposed TechEast cluster of approximately 38,819 jobs, putting it in the top 5 list UK tech city clusters.

Apprenticeships increasingly popular career paths

One of the UK’s leading apprenticeship providers has reviewed its apprenticeship statistics, and can reveal a 63% increase in apprenticeship placements for 16 to 18-year olds across the period of March 2015 to March 2016.

Widening the age bracket further to incorporate the full spectrum of its 16 to 24-year-old target demographic demonstrated a 40% increase in overall apprenticeship placements.

Positive Outcomes, a nationally based government-funded training and apprenticeships provider, analysed its apprenticeship placement statistics over the last 12 months, revealing a significant increase in placements.

Positive Outcomes joint managing director Kelly Ball said: “63% reflects the huge surge in apprenticeships we’ve been encountering over the past few months as an organisation and suggests apprenticeships are becoming ever more popular as an educational career path.”

HSBC offers nationwide support for SMEs

HSBC has launched a £10bn lending fund to support SMEs in the UK. The fund has been structured to ensure it’s truly UK-wide so that ambitious SMEs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to access the funds they need to grow their businesses.

HSBC’s 2016 SME Fund and broader package of support includes:

  • A free banking offer of up to 18 months for start-ups and 12 months for switchers
  • The introduction of year-long fixed-price £5.50 monthly account tariff, to commence at the end of a customer’s initial free banking period
  • Changes that will make banking cheaper for our customers: a reduction in the Personal Guarantee Fee from £80 to £10 for any lending facility above £10,000
  • The launch of the Business Lending Eligibility Checker (BLEC) – an online tool offering potential new customers a credit decision in principle for loans of up to £30,000 in under three minutes
  • A free text alert service for informal overdrafts, which will help customers avoid paying informal overdraft fees and interest.

Awards recognises tech start-ups and entrepreneurs

Global IT and technology recruitment specialist Talent International has announced the 2016 Talent Unleashed Awards, appointing Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as head judge.

Now in its fifth year, Talent Unleashed recognises start-ups and entrepreneurs dedicated to transforming business and the wider community through technological innovation.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was part of the 2015 judging panel, said: “I’m delighted to be involved again this year as a judge for the Talent Unleashed Awards. The quality of the entries seems to get stronger as does the geographical spread which includes Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK.”

For more information and to enter the awards, visit Entries close on 27th May 2016.