Over 30,000 young entrepreneurs are set to benefit from access to free workspace as part of a joint incentive programme to boost start-ups in the UK.
The offer is part of the government’s freshly launched StartUp Loans scheme, spearheaded by former Dragons’ Den star James Caan, which encourages young people to start their own business and offers support during the conceptual stages. Financial help is given in the form of ‘affordable’ micro-loans – with up to £2,500 available per business – while entrepreneurs also benefit from mentoring and access to free workspace.
Regus has put £20m worth of free virtual office space on the table. The deal includes six months’ unlimited use of their business lounges, a business address, call answering and receptionist services, mail handling, and discounts on other Regus products.
Steve Purdy, UK Managing Director of Regus, believes that more firms should be getting involved.
“We believe businesses should be investing in the next generation of British entrepreneurs and the future of British business. Rather than moaning from the sidelines about what more the Government should do to stimulate growth, we believe it is time businesses offered some meaningful support,” he said. “We hope others will follow suit.”
Successful entrepreneur James Caan is chairman of the £82.5m StartUp Loans scheme and has praised Regus for its involvement in the initiative.
He described Regus’ commitment as “generous”, saying that they are “a great example of how a small company can grow to become a world leader.” He added: “I believe this is the start of many more companies coming on board to help young people with the tools they need to launch and grow their own businesses.”
Over the next three years, the programme will offer low-cost loans and support to budding young businesspeople aged between 18 and 24, who have a viable business plan. It is another example of new schemes being introduced by the government, with support from private sector business and charities such as the Princes Trust, aimed at kick-starting growth in the UK economy.
British Prime Minister David Cameron offered his commendation for Regus’ commitment, saying that enterprise is “vital to our country’s future”. He added: “I welcome the excellent news that Regus are getting behind our young entrepreneurs and helping them get their businesses off the ground – a fantastic example of an established and successful company reaching out to help nurture the next generation of British businesses.”
Furthermore, the government announced earlier this year that it will make additional workspace available to start-ups by freeing up a number of empty government buildings. Up to 300 offices have been made available to SMEs for low rents as a stop-gap before the buildings are sold off to new buyers.
Could your business centre follow in Regus’ footsteps? If you have spare space, could you offer free or low-cost shared workspace to help local start-ups get off the ground? Not only will you be doing your bit for the economy, you may also gain additional PR and increased exposure from the offer. And if the space is already sitting empty, what do you have to lose?