My recent call for positive news brought me into contact with gateway2investment (g2i), a mentoring scheme for companies seeking private sector funding, who invited me to sit in on one of their sessions.
Ahead of my visit I spoke to Ian Shields, g2i programme manager at Grant Thornton UK, about the scheme, its origins and what the future holds.
Established in 2005, g2i traces its origins back to research carried out by Grant Thornton into private sector investment which was then presented to the London Development Agency. When the LDA went out to tender, Grant Thornton put together a consortium which subsequently won the contract.
The scheme is currently operating under an extended contract from the LDA which must, under EU law, go back out to tender.
Shields says the personal experiences of the delivery partners make them “well placed” to help companies present themselves as attractive investment opportunities.
Keen to highlight the ethics behind the scheme, Shields tells me it’s “not a shop window for the partners” and says none of the consortium members are allowed to invest in the companies during the programme, although they’re free to do so when the company subsequently looks for investment from the wider market.
Participation in the programme is subject to pre-vetting and invitation at every stage. Shields tells me this approach is designed to ensure only those likely to benefit – companies with a product prototype or beta version of a web application – are taken forward. Those not deemed ready for inclusion “are referred elsewhere for more relevant help.”
Businesses at the session I attended described the involvement of real-world entrepreneurs and investors as the programme’s biggest draw and even as an observer I felt I’d come away having learnt something from the speakers and their experiences.
My colleague Damian is usually the one complaining about the disruption EU law forces on our daily lives, but it seems to me the g2i programme is one of those things which works well and should just be left to get on with things.
For information about g2i and a look at some of the companies they’ve helped visit: www.g2i.org