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Innovation Funding

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will provide a regional breakdown of innovation funding in the UK. [23975]

Ms Hewitt: My Department's innovation programme expenditure is primarily providing support to industry UK-wide. In the financial year 2001–02, £340 million was allocated to this support. It would be a disproportionate cost to ascertain the regional breakdown of this expenditure. Moreover in many instances mapping the immediate recipient of the support would not give a reliable guide to the ultimate distribution of the benefit.

The only funding currently allocated by my Department on a regional basis that contributes to the DTI's innovation agenda is the Regional Innovation Fund (RIF), which was established on 1 April 2001.

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RIF provides a funding stream to the nine English Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to enable them to support regional competitiveness, innovation and enterprise, and to support cluster development and business incubation in their regions. A breakdown of my Department's 2001–02 RIF allocation of £54.1 million to the RDAs is as follows:

2001–02 RIF allocation

RDA£ million
One North East8.9
North West Development Agency7.4
Yorkshire Forward10.0
East Midlands Development Agency (emda)4.3
Advantage West Midlands6.3
East of England Development Agency3.5
South West of England Regional Development Agency4.7
London Development Agency5.8

Female Entrepreneurs

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action she is taking (a) to promote female entrepreneurs and (b) to create an enterprise environment that supports both men and women. [23973]

Ms Hewitt: The Government's priority on coming to office in 1997 was economic stability and employment. The economic challenge for the second term is enterprise and productivity.

The Government are promoting enterprise through:

The Small Business Service (SBS) aims to build an enterprise society in which small businesses of all kinds thrive and achieve their potential. Last year it published "Think Small First"—a national strategy to create the right environment for SMEs. SBS is holding meetings across Whitehall to ensure all Government Departments consider the impact their actions have on them.

SBS's services are available to both male and female entrepreneurs in England, through the Business Link network, which provides local advice and support to all entrepreneurs on everything needed to start and grow a business. Business Connect delivers a similar service in Wales.

Women who are thinking of setting up or who are already running their own businesses are able to make use of the full range of services provided by SBS through the Business Link operators.

In addition, SBS has set up the Phoenix Fund to encourage entrepreneurship in disadvantaged areas and within groups which are currently under-represented in terms of business ownership (including women). The Phoenix Fund as a whole is worth £100 million over the four financial years from 2000–04. 16 projects specifically target the needs of women. The National Assembly for Wales has a separate budget to promote female entrepreneurs.

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The SBS is working to research and better understand the needs of women entrepreneurs and tackle any specific barriers that they may face in starting and running their own businesses.

Anti-competitive Behaviour

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many anti-competitive behaviour cases are being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading. [10136]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Under UK competition legislation, responsibility for monitoring markets and considering allegations of anti-competitive behaviour is a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading. I have asked the Director General to write to the hon. Member directly.

Small Business Service

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Small Business Service in assisting the establishment of new companies. [11849]

Nigel Griffiths: The SBS delivers a range of support to start-up businesses through the Business Link network and manages a number of specific initiatives. All SBS services are subject to regular and rigorous evaluation.

In Quarter One (April-June) this year, the Business Link network helped around 30,000 individuals and start-up businesses including 2,000 high-growth start-ups.

An early assessment of the high-growth start-up initiative was completed in December 2000. This showed that:

An assessment of the Business Volunteer Mentors Association (BVMA) initiative was completed in March 2001. This showed that, despite the early stage of the programme:

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The Small Business Service is currently consulting on the development of a comprehensive strategy for supporting business start-ups. The consultation phase of developing the comprehensive strategy is to be completed by March 2002.

A full evaluation of all Business Link services, including those for start-ups, is planned for 2002.

The SBS is also monitoring the wider environment in which businesses start through its "Think Small First" indicators which will be published annually.

Business Links

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the funding of Business Links by area in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [11848]

Nigel Griffiths: Business Links exist and operate only in England. There are 45 Business Link operators, appointed by the Small Business Service (SBS), operating in 45 designated areas throughout England.

Business Link operators receive a grant from SBS in the form of a Core Services allocation, which funds the core business support services that the BL operator is obliged to deliver under the terms of their agreement. Other funding is provided by the SBS to deliver specialist services like the UK Online for Business, Local Partnership Fund and High Growth Start-ups programmes, these funds are allocated at regional level.

The table provides a breakdown of Core Services allocations to BL operators by SBS area for the 2001–02 financial year.

Core Services allocations 2001–02

Allocation (£)Percentage
South East (6)
Hampshire and Isle of Wight4,660,0543.6
Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire3,772,5242.9
London (1)
East (6)
South West (6)
Devon and Cornwall4,161,6703.2
Wiltshire and Swindon1,577,4211.2
West Midlands (6)
Birmingham and Solihull2,789,0382.1
Coventry and Warwickshire2,029,6381.6
Herefordshire and Worcestershire1,970,3401.5
The Black Country2,600,6192.0
East Midlands (5)
Lincolnshire and Rutland1,813,8421.4
Yorkshire and The Humber (4)
North Yorkshire2,144,0611.6
South Yorkshire2,784,4772.1
West Yorkshire4,893,1633.8
North West (7)
Cheshire and Warrington2,316,0441.8
Manchester CBS3,509,1132.7
East Lancashire1,230,1380.9
North Manchester CBS2,661,1032.0
North and West Lancashire2,315,6361.8
North East (4)
County Durham1,038,6920.8
Tees Valley1,355,0031.0
Tyne and Wear2,287,5041.8

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