Innovative SMEs key to overcoming recession, says James Caan

Britain needs to focus on building a strong SME base in the science sector, says Dragons’ Den investor James Caan.

Speaking at the launch of the iawards, setup by the government to celebrate achievements in British science, technology and innovation, the entrepreneur said: ‘Over the last ten to 15 years we’ve become dependent on the financial services sector, for the UK to overcome our current challenges we need another solution.

‘We need to give those SMEs developing products [in science and technology] the recognition they deserve. That way we will encourage more people to come forward and join the sector.’

However, for many science and technology-based SMEs, investment still remains their biggest obstacle. Jeff Woolf, Business Link adviser to small and growing companies, says: ‘None of my clients have been lent a penny. It just doesn’t seem like banks are lending. I am not optimistic in the short-term that inventors are going to be able to fund themselves. It’s tough out there at the moment.’

Speaking at the event, Lord Drayson, minister for science, said that the government was ‘listening to the SME sector and putting our money where our mouth is’ as it recently launched a £1 billion innovation fund for high growth companies.

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James Caan