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InvoRed and Spinner Renewed

An audience of almost 150 entrepreneurs, small businesses, advisors, intermediaries and venture capitalists assembled at Holywell Park, Loughborough earlier this year for the official launch of the Connect InvoRed investment readiness programme. InvoRed has existed since April 2003 but was recently given further funding from the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) following a successful pilot phase. Isabell Majewsky, director of Connect Midlands outlined the successes of the organisation in helping technology companies raise investment finance. During the pilot, in which it was tasked with helping 90 companies, it exceeded its target and helped 127 businesses across the region, 31 of whom went on to raise investment finance totalling over £12m.

Officially launching on 1st April, the programme is designed to help early stage through to high growth businesses seeking between £15,000 and £3.5m make themselves more attractive to investors or become "investment ready". Over the next three years, the expanded programme aims to help 600 businesses across the region to raise at least £25m worth of investment..

Speaking at the launch, Jeff Moore, chief executive of emda said: "Historically the East Midlands is an innovative region, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. We are now internationally renowned for our modern, forward thinking companies such as Astra Zeneca, Rolls Royce, Boots, Experian and Speedo to name a few. "But we need to continue to support new enterprises and ideas - putting the East Midlands at the forefront in the exploitation of research, science and technology. In order to do this, businesses need to be able to raise the right sort of finance at the right time and this is why I am so pleased to support the Connect InvoRed programme which will be invaluable in helping us do exactly that." John Griffiths, Connect InvoRed regional manager said: "We were delighted with the success of the pilot phase and are looking forward to meeting our new targets over the next three years. Our flexible mix of coaching and one-to-one mentoring allows us to assist a wide range of enterprises in raising finance and investment by helping them to prepare for and deliver their investment pitch. "While preparation is essential and a key facet of our offering, it is equally important to be able to showcase these innovative businesses to investors. During the pilot phase we received feedback from both investors and entrepreneurs and have formulated regular events such as Springboard, Roundtable and our main annual Investment Conference to do just that and are now developing further exciting showcasing platforms." Keynote speaker at the launch was Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital and founder of global entrepreneurial network First Tuesday who said: "If you don't have a driving passion to build, work for a great leader, because being an entrepreneur requires total commitment. The best businesses are formed when the founder has the desire and drive to take the business all the way. Work out your own unfair advantage and do more of that." Meyer also praised the nature of the Connect InvoRed network urging more entrepreneurs to adopt a contributory approach to networking: "I have wanted to attend a Connect networking event for some time now. The best entrepreneurs don't develop •contacts', they focus on long-term relationships, it's about contributing to the system not taking from it." Amongst the assembled guests were many of the business members of Connect Midlands. Rob Carroll, managing director of Catapult Venture Managers, said: Rob Carroll, managing director of Catapult Venture Managers, said: "The InvoRed process directly helps Catapult make more investments in the region, which is for the benefit of investors, SMEs and the wider business community." Signing off, Jonathan Lowe, head of business investment at emda urged potential business members to get involved: "Get to know the Connect InvoRed companies and invest some time along the way. We want you to have the chance to see some good propositions, but it won't come without some input from you upfront. "Help them with their expert panels, build their network and don't forget, some of the businesses going through the programme will need professional advisers, now and in the future." Notes to editors Connect Midlands is a not-for-profit network, linking high-potential technology businesses and entrepreneurs with the business training, finance, management and customers they need to succeed. Connect InvoRed provides expert advice, coaching and support to companies in the East Midlands who are seeking to raise finance and investment. Delegates enrol on either an Amber or Green stream, dependent upon the requirement, skills and stage of each company. The practical programme is delivered in seminars and workshops by industry experts covering finance options, winning business propositions and preparation for the investment deal.