WITH the economy seemingly in free-fall and news of redundancies coming thick and fast, the business community is cautiously looking to the future.
Small and medium businesses are struggling with cash flow, the availability of funding is at an all time low and advice on how to survive through a recession is disjointed and fragmented.
But, it's not all doom and gloom. In the UK, there are approximately 4.5m small to medium-sized businesses, many developing cutting-edge technologies and innovations, who are leaner and more dynamic than large corporate firms. In the North East, the future looks bright for the region's next generation of wealth and job creators, and today will highlight this to a worldwide audience.
The region's business incubation environments are taking part in the first ever worldwide celebration of intensive business support and growth. Global Business Incubation Day is connecting more than 2,000 environments from more than 60 countries to share, network and promote their clients.
Business incubation, which is the range of processes that can be used to help small companies survive and grow, such as flexible leases, mentoring, networking, access to management advice and to finance and grow-on space, is a North East success story. Companies in the region can access these processes which will support them on their journey from start-up to sustainable business.
UKBI, the country's experts in supporting the development of supportive and nurturing environments for businesses to grow in, is marking the occasion by holding a reception at 11 Downing Street, when politicians, government officials and the Press will have the opportunity to meet a number of business incubation practitioners from throughout the UK, as well as some of the entrepreneurs who have benefited from business incubation.
Research has shown that 97% of businesses incubated are still trading and growing after three years, as compared to less than 50% of the total number of new business starts over the same period. Business Incubation processes are applicable to all types of businesses, from technology transfer coming out of university research to job creation in economically deprived areas, as well as to social enterprises where profit maximization is not the prime consideration.
Malcolm Buckler, chief executive of UKBI, said: "Global Business Incubation Day started out as a way of helping business incubators in the UK network and learn from incubators in other countries. …