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Business Minister & European Commission Vice-President put SMEs first on visit to WMG at University of Warwick

Mark Prisk MP, the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise; and the European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, both declared their strong support for the economic importance of Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) while visiting WMG at the University of Warwick today, Thursday 3rd March.

They met with a range of local businesses, and with WMG Director Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, to discuss UK growth policies, particularly how best to encourage SMEs and promote entrepreneurship, to consider whether such initiatives could be better promoted across Europe, and to discuss key bottlenecks (both at the national and European level) within UK business.

Their visit coincided with the announcement of a new £12 million programme to help Midlands SMEs access some the world's leading product and service design technology. The new International Institute for Product and Service Innovation (IIPSI) at WMG at the University of Warwick, is jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the University of Warwick in a funding partnership brought together by the regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands (AWM).

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani (who is responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship) said:

“We have many SMEs in Europe and we want to support them with innovation and through trade links. We want to back competitiveness with strong industrial policies. Growth means putting the real economy at the centre of what we do. Without European governance of the economy it is difficult to co-ordinate policy to reduce the public debt. I had a very important meeting with Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise. The links with the UK government are very important”.

Business Minister Mark Prisk’s visit to WMG was part of a day meeting with SMEs to discuss boosting entrepreneurship and how the government can provide a SME friendly business environment. He said:

“I’ve had very useful discussions with local businesses about the barriers they are facing which are preventing them from flourishing and what Government is doing to improve market conditions.”

"This Government is on the side of the business owner, whether that’s a small firm just getting off the ground, or a large established company. That is why we are setting enterprise free - with lower and simpler business taxes, so entrepreneurs are able to enjoy the rewards of their hard work, generate new jobs and contribute to thriving communities across Britain. And we are cutting through the unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that weighs so heavily on companies, especially small firms."

WMG Director Professor Lord Bhattacharyya said:

“SMEs are not only a significant part of the economy they are also powerful engines of innovation. We need to nurture that innovative spirit and help it flourish to generate many more new products and new jobs. I am delighted that the Minister and Vice-President were able to come to WMG to see some of the ways in which we support SMEs to bring their innovations to market. WMG has given direct support to 1200 regional SMEs and today’s announcement of our new £12 million International Institute for Product and Service Innovation will give us yet another way in which we can work with Midlands SMEs, helping them access some the world's leading product and service design Technology.”

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Head of Communications
Communications Office, University House,
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)24 76 523708 Mobile/Cell: +44 (0)7767 655860

3rd March 2011