Call for new minister for entrepreneurs

Jim Duffy: 'There would be more support for start-ups'. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
Jim Duffy: 'There would be more support for start-ups'. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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CHANCELLOR George Osborne, who today delivers his last Budget before May’s general election, has been urged to create a new cabinet role for a minister for entrepreneurship.

The call came from Jim Duffy, chief executive of the business accelerator scheme Entrepreneurial Spark (ESpark), which has three “hatcheries” north of the Border and last week opened facilities in Bristol and Leeds.

Duffy said: “Start-up businesses and a new generation of entrepreneurs are bringing billions of pounds into the UK economy, creating thousands of jobs and making a huge contribution to communities across the length and breadth of Britain.

“New firms under our banner have already created more than 1,000 jobs, have turned over more than £41 million and been awarded almost 400 patents.”

He added: “But there is so much more they can do with greater support at government level. We have a minister for business but the needs of start-ups can be very different from those of large and established firms or giant multinationals.

“They deserve, and Britain would benefit hugely from, a minister at cabinet level who can influence legislation to provide greater support for start-ups and raise awareness of the massive economic and social benefits these businesses bring.”

ESpark teamed up with Royal Bank of Scotland earlier this month in a move that has seen the state-backed lender convert the former executive wing at its Gogarburn headquarters into a centre for fledgling businesses.

Up to 80 entrepreneurs will be based at the hub, receiving free wi-fi and office space as well as access to RBS staff and business mentors. The centre will also house staff from organisations such as Business Gateway, Edinburgh Napier University and Prince’s Trust Scotland.

Duffy said today’s Budget could help to usher in a “golden age” for start-ups, adding: “In one stroke, George Osborne could create the office of minister for entrepreneurs. The right person in that role could create legislation that would offer practical help to start-ups, for example raising the VAT threshold for small businesses to £100,000 and freeing thousands of start-ups from that administrative burden.

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