By Daniel Hunter

Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a new partnership with UK bank Metro Bank to help boost the growth prospects for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Metro Bank will support up to £100 million of lending for eligible businesses in London and the South East that are signed up to GrowthAccelerator, a Government-backed coaching service available to businesses with genuine potential for rapid and sustainable growth. RBS Natwest has also agreed to promote the service across its nationwide network to its UK SME customers, who currently make up 25 per cent of market share.

The Government’s £200 million GrowthAccelerator service matches eligible companies with business experts to identify barriers to growth and ways to overcome them. This can be on issues such as securing finance, commercialising innovation or developing leadership and management capability. Over 1,000 businesses have joined the programme since it was launched in May 2012.

The announcement of these two funding partners marks the start of a wider engagement with the UK banking community for GrowthAccelerator.

“This Government is committed to supporting our growth industries and Cambridge is an example of what can be achieved when academia and ambitious, innovative young companies come together," Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

"Autonomy and Arm Holdings are just two of the world-leading technology companies that were established here and many others are following in their wake.

“GrowthAccelerator is designed to help these next generation businesses fulfil their potential. Getting access to finance on reasonable terms is crucial to their success which is why I am delighted with today's pledge by Metro Bank to provide up to £100 million of lending to eligible businesses signed up to GrowthAccelerator. It is good news for businesses that new entrants like Metro Bank are energising the market to support dynamic, fast-growing UK businesses.

“I also welcome RBS Natwest’s commitment to promote GrowthAccelerator to its substantial SME client-base.”

The Business Secretary visited St John’s Innovation Centre, the region’s leading business hub for start-ups and one of the GrowthAccelerator partners. At the Centre he met 50 local businesses that are eligible to join the scheme as well as those already receiving coaching through it.

"Over the past 25 years at St John's Innovation Centre, we have seen that high-growth businesses are more likely to realise their full potential sooner with the benefit of targeted coaching and advice," David Gill, Managing Director of the St John’s Innovation Centre, said.

"Using GrowthAccelerator, businesses can locate the right coach much more easily, starting work straightaway with a tailored package of support. And the service is affordable. Many successful businesses began in St John's, and we are delighted to be delivering GrowthAccelerator to a new generation of entrepreneurs around the region.”

While in Cambridge, Vince Cable also visited the Laboratory for Molecular Biology (LMB) and the Institute for Manufacturing. The LMB is part of the Cambridge BioMedical Campus and has helped pioneer a range of techniques, most notably the sequencing of DNA. It is also home to 14 past and present Nobel Prize Winners. The LMB is currently moving to a new state of the art facility which has received £67 million of Government funding towards a total project cost of £212 million.

The Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), which is part of Cambridge University, integrates research and education with practical application in companies. It provides a unique environment for the creation of new ideas and approaches to modern industrial practice. The IfM works closely with industry, at a regional, national and international level, providing strategic, technical and operational expertise to help companies to grow and to become more competitive.

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