Small Talk: It's not just the start-ups that are in need of a helping hand

In an economy where the Government talks loud and long about how it wants small companies to power the recovery, what precisely does it mean by small? All too often, for small companies, read start-up businesses, new ventures founded by entrepreneurs from scratch.

Some of these firms will no doubt play a part in generating the growth of the future, but the focus on start-ups – whether in Whitehall or the media – does a disservice to existing businesses that have already proved their worth. After all, small but already growing businesses stand much more chance of creating large numbers of jobs than a company launching on the basis of an untested entrepreneurial dream.

Banks and equity investors know this, which is why SMEs that were already standing on their own two feet used to be able, when markets were functioning normally, to raise money. That may no longer be so true, but it is clear that many in the private sector still know well on which side their bread is likely to be buttered.

It was interesting, for example, to see WH Ireland's launch this week of the UK EIS Growth Fund, a product that aims to capitalise on the new tax breaks associated with the enterprise investment scheme. Unlike other EIS providers, WH Ireland intends to invest only in established businesses – and only quoted companies at that – because it thinks this will be both less risky and more rewarding.

Ministers, however, don't always seem to get the message, preferring to concentrate on the sexy end of the SME market or on much larger businesses. A report just out from the London School of Economics provides a good example of Government short-sightedness. It says the decision last year to abolish the Grants for Business Investment scheme was a mistake.

The scheme, offering growing small companies financial help with projects set to create jobs, was a cheap measure, particularly in the context of the cost of unemployment benefits. Its partial replacement, a scheme offering grants only to bigger companies, is nowhere near such good value, the LSE concluded.

Adam Posen, pictured, the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member, also wants to see more help given to SMEs. He told a TUC conference last week that the US is bouncing back from recession more quickly than the UK precisely because it offers so much support to established SMEs. And he complained that all the talk from the Chancellor in the autumn of credit easing had so far come to little. Over to you, Mr Osborne.

LPA sees the light with Siemens' LED order

Bright news from Alternative Investment Market-listed manufacturing company LPA: it's just picked up a £600,000 order from Siemens for its LED lighting products, which the German industrial giant will install on new trains for the Warsaw metro, pictured.

LPA has already won a similar contract for the Heathrow Express, and its latest win augurs well for a pitch to the Munich Metro. What's pleasing, says house broker XCap, is that LED lighting is a key contributor to LPA's profitability. Though its LED products made only £2.4m of the company's £17.3m sales in the year to last September, XCap thinks they accounted for a "substantial element" of group operating profit. That element is about to become even more substantial, says XCap, which is now reviewing its 50p price target for the stock.

Clean Air Power is running smoothly

Who'd be the owner of a fleet of heavy trucks? With fuel prices grinding ever higher, powering such a fleet is becoming ever more expensive. Higher taxes on carbon emissions only add to the pressure.

Enter Clean Air Power, an Alternative Investment Market-listed manufacturer of a new type of combustion technology that enables heavy-duty diesel engines to run on a combination of diesel and natural gas. That cuts both fuel costs and emissions. After a lacklustre 18 months on Aim, which saw the company's shares fall from above 20p to just 3p before Christmas, the stock last week, climbed from 7p to 13p in two days. Behind the rise was a £700,000 order for 27 of Clean Air Power's units from an unnamed logistics company.

Small Businessman of the Week: Emerging markets are a key factor

Steve Good is chief executive of Low & Bonar

"Leveraging your business expertise in domestic markets and focusing that on emerging markets, deploying it in the areas with potential for growth, that is going to be the key to driving your business in the coming years.

"It is up to the market and to private enterprise to drive those [export] opportunities and to capitalise on those opportunities: government can support that but it can't drive or create, they're the facilitators not the drivers.

"That said, some countries have been more supportive of manufacturers than in the UK – in Belgium and Holland, for example, labour market flexibility during the recession enabled employers to keep on staff for whom there was no work, retaining their skills base when business picked up again."

Low & Bonar manufactures and supplies performance materials including yarns, fabrics and fibres to industrial clients from a range of sectors. Its annual results are published tomorrow.

scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux / Redhat / Solaris / Puppet / SAN

£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape