Business support for Covid-19 impact and future investment
At the beginning of the year, Laura Mallaburn joined the Lincoln Science & Innovation Park in a new business support role, just as news was reaching us of the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Eastern China. She talks about the timing and direction of her role as Business Support and Angel Network Manager.
Research recently commissioned by the Science Park to assess the needs of the local economy highlighted that there was a lack of funding available for start-ups and early stage businesses. To remedy this, the Science Park joined forces with the University of Lincoln as a delivery partner for the ERDF-funded ‘Productivity Programme for Greater Lincolnshire’.
My role, as Business Support and Angel Network Manager, aims to help stimulate local innovation and to support businesses to develop and present an investible proposition that could be put forward to a local network of Business Angels. Simultaneously, I was to build and manage the local Business Angel network.
This got off to a great start, generating immediate interest from entrepreneurs and prospective Angels alike. However, merely weeks into post, COVID-19 reached the UK, and like so many, I’ve had to adapt to the new challenges that this virus continues to present.
Although my focus remains heavily on preparing for the creation and launch of a local Angel Network and working with local businesses to support them to be investment ready, the path to achieving this has changed.
My approach to the businesses I am currently supporting is often focused on them financially surviving the crisis brought about by COVID-19. Time has been spent researching the government’s support packages and guiding clients through the criteria and application procedures, producing newsletters and adopting a wider channel of communications methods and workshops to look at government support packages and the grant funding landscape.
I have had a great support network keeping me up to date on all the latest happenings, in particular the British Business Bank, UK Business Angel Association and UK Science Park Association. I’m really pleased that a number of Lincolnshire businesses have been helped in terms of securing finance via CBILS, the Bounce Back Loan facility, or by getting them in front of an Angel network.
On the other hand, there have been some innovative and research-led businesses that have fallen through the cracks of every available scheme, and it has been frustrating not to be able to guide them to a successful outcome. The Science Park will continue to highlight these cases and lobby for change and inclusion as they are crucial to our future economy.
Looking forward, I have some exciting plans in the pipeline to stimulate local Angel activity. These include adopting a new platform for interactive networking and events and offering access to an Angel education programme. We have just signed up as a member of the UK British Angel Association and can also offer our Angels the benefit of this membership.
I’ll keep you up to date with progress and I am on hand for any ongoing COVID-19 business support.
Laura Mallaburn, Lincoln Science & Innovation Park’s Business Support and Angel Network Manager