Beyond Bricks offers aid to entrepreneurs

The Internet bubble may have burst, but the Government still wants to foster the entrepreneurial spirit

The DTI on Thursday launched its e-business incubator, beyondbricks.com, together with a £75m incubator fund, to help high-tech startups in the UK.

Beyond Bricks is a £5.5m, three-year project to help entrepreneurs find the assistance they need to turn their ideas into successful, sustainable businesses, said e-commerce minister Douglas Alexander. Among the services that Beyond Bricks will offer are advice on business plans; links to legal, accounting, design and marketing resources; and help for finding funds.

"Beyond Bricks marks the DTI's commitment to foster a culture of entrepreneurs in Britain so that it is the best place in the world to start and build an Internet business," said Alexander, speaking at the launch.

Alexander attacked what he called the frenzy of the bubble economy; "In the big dot-com rush, many rushed to start an Internet business believing they were invincible." Almost all were proved wrong.

The project is being run by the Metrodome consortium of industry experts, headed by serial e-entrepreneur Charlie Hoult. Hoult said Beyond Bricks will exploit what he called the huge opportunity in the global knowledge economy, which was opened up by the end of the dot-com goldrush.

"The growth of the digital economy may have slowed temporarily," said Hoult, "but people are now using the Internet more than ever, and new media still offers on of the fastest, cheapest and most effective routes to start an e-business."

Beyond Bricks' target is to get 8,000 entrepreneurs signed up by March 2003. Eighty-six people signed up on the morning of the launch.

Separately, small business minister Nigal Griffiths said he will launch a £75m business incubator fund on 1 October. The first ten companies to benefit will be announced next month during October.

Matt Loney contributed to this report

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