Home / SuperNetwork

In conversation with Joan Louw, Director Agora Bay Ltd

The Innovation SuperNetwork brings people together to generate fresh ideas, new market opportunities, knowledge and money. It does this with the help of partners in business across the region. We spoke to one of those partners, Joan Louw, Director Agora Bay Ltd who gave us her thoughts on how to get your business ready for a successful finance application.

Developing and growing a business is a balancing act. On the one hand you need to get your products and services to your target market as quickly and efficiently as possible and on the other you need to spend time building the core infrastructure of your business. Both aspects require planning, resources and most of all – that precious commodity – time!

As a director of a (relatively) new, Northern based, consulting firm I have firsthand experience of trying to strike this balance.

At Agora Bay we try to practice what we preach in our role supporting senior management teams to grow their business and explore future financing options. We are conscious that we want to build our own business and not just provide a few hours of consultancy services in a desultory fashion. This means that we have had to take time to consider our values, branding, systems, cash flows, strategic partnerships and the quality and consistency of the services we offer.  At the same time, like all business owners, we need to keep up to date with admin tasks, grow our client base and actually deliver our services!

Supporting operational activity with business infrastructure

In any business, there is a linear progression of operational activities that flow from product development and production to marketing and sales to receipting and managing cash. Surrounding and supporting these activities, is the business infrastructure, the buttress that provides the reasons why you are doing things in a certain way, how you are going to reinvest profits and how you manage the strategic risks that could prevent your longer -term success.

This infrastructure is the value part of your business and is reflected in every aspect: from the selection and development of the Board, the way in which the company and its staff manage and interact with suppliers and customers, to how the business reflects and promotes the corporate brand.

Resource planning is part of building the business infrastructure and identifying and managing working capital is a crucial resource in any business.

There is no shortage of finance and finance products in the market but that does not mean that it is easy to secure loans or investment.

Exploring the finance markets and deciding on the right type of finance for your business is one thing but finding a suitable provider of this finance product may take a little longer – especially when looking for a business angel or equity investor.

Getting it right

From an investor perspective, an “attractive investment” is one that meets and exceeds expectations: from the initial meeting or Executive Summary review, to the completion of due diligence and through the on-going communication process.

A business needs time to research and find the most appropriate finance solution to suit its needs. An optimal finance solution should provide a company with sufficient funding to cover its cashflow requirements – and should be secured at a reasonable cost with and an acceptable level of business risk.

The key to a successful finance application is planning and taking time out of the busy day job to plan!

About the author

Joan and co- directors at Agora Bay are all professionally qualified accountants, with extensive finance and board level experience across a range of business sectors. They focus on building value within the business, helping clients develop a sound investment proposition that clearly explains their business model and their longer term growth plans.

Home / SuperNetwork

New innovation SuperNetwork launched

The Innovation SuperNetwork, a new network supporting innovation in business across the North East is being launched by Venturefest North East with full support from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The SuperNetwork will enable organisations in all sectors to connect, supporting business-to-business collaboration and creating links between business and research bodies, catapults and innovation hubs.

It will allow people to access support, events and information which will unlock the potential for increased innovation. The SuperNetwork will incorporate a programme of events including conferences, seminars and workshops will facilitate access to innovation support and finance and will become the recognised access route to the network of research and innovation institutions, hubs, and information present within the region.

Alan Lowdon, chair of the North East LEP innovation board explained: “Innovation is a key part of the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, which ultimately aims to create more and better jobs here in the North East.

“Innovation is vital if we’re to realise the full potential of the North East economy and the new SuperNetwork will help to ensure innovation can flourish in business and enterprise across all sectors.”

Businesses, entrepreneurs and organisations in all sectors will be able to access the SuperNetwork which is being developed in consultation with partner organisations and the business community. It will provide support and information for existing business networks and their members as well as organisations and innovators seeking opportunities to build links with others.

Simon Green, Director of the SuperNetwork said: “Through this new network we will be helping organisations to access the tools they need to become more innovative in their work, whether that is funding opportunities, training or links with global, national and regional innovation partners.

“There are already some fantastic examples of innovation taking place, particularly in our smart specialisation areas of passenger vehicle manufacturing; subsea and offshore technology; life sciences and healthcare; and creative, digital, software and technology based services. The North East has the potential to be a global leader in innovation and the SuperNetwork is the next step in making this happen.”

Find out more about the SuperNetwork at supernetwork.org.uk