A host of leading UK technology entrepreneurs have pledged to volunteer at least one day a month to mentor start-ups.
The initiative was announced today at the launch of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s new Enterprise Hub, due to go live on Monday, with 70 technology entrepreneurs and business professionals giving up their time to help growing SMEs.
Volunteer mentors are Fellows of the Academy, including Dr Mike Lynch, co-founder of Autonomy, Sir Robin Saxby, former chief executive and chairman of ARM, and Sir David Payne, serial entrepreneur and director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The government is focused on making this the decade of the engineer. Programmes like this will go a long way towards helping us achieve this ambition.
“We have seen in so many sectors already the huge benefits for individuals and businesses of mentoring programmes. This stellar list of mentors, many of whom have founded and led some of the UK’s most successful engineering businesses, will ensure the next generation of talent keeps Britain at the forefront of science and innovation."
The academy’s Enterprise Hub is a new national resource taking 'the best of the best' early stage companies and providing them with a long-term package of mentoring, training and bespoke support.
Fellows will give their time and expertise to Academy activities on a pro bono basis, with a total of 840 volunteer days per year already pledged so far.
Ian Shott, chair of the Enterprise Committee at the academy, said: “Working with a range of partners, our vision for the hub is to seed a culture of success amongst the most ambitious and high potential technology-intensive SMEs in the UK.
“It will build their capabilities and provide them with essential connections to established financing and business clusters that offer access to finance and routes to market. Success will be evidenced by UK companies with global vision creating substantial wealth, jobs and associated social and societal benefits.”
Iain Wilcock, partner for UK and Irish investments at Seventure Partners, said: “Businesses participating in the Enterprise Hub will be in a privileged position, in terms of both the support they receive and the recognition of their promise.
“For investors, knowing that a business has received money-can’t-buy mentoring from some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs will be an attractive prospect.”