HUNTINGDONSHIRE firms are urged to line up for free seminars on raising finance in case the funding runs out in the spring.

A team of entrepreneurs, investors, former bankers, pitching advisers and sector specialists has been helping companies that register for the ‘Understanding Finance for Business’ programme which is funded by EEDA and delivered by St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge.

The next of the introductory half-day courses at the centre, which can lead to opportunities to pitch to business ‘angels’, take place on February 8, March 10 and May 17.

The overall programme offers a combination of workshops, one-to-one mentoring and pitching – all free of charge.

Workshops are scheduled up to the end of June 2011 but, although it is hoped that the programme will continue after that, there is no guarantee, so it is vital that companies sign up now to ensure they benefit, a spokesman for the centre said.

So far, around 1,000 companies have attended one or more of the Understanding Finance for Business workshops, and the team has mentored companies that have raised a total well in excess of £1million.

David Gill, managing director of St John’s Innovation Centre, said: “Most businesses need funding of some kind or another, particularly in their early years, and a wrong decision can be costly.

“Understanding Finance for Business offers companies free access to a wealth of experience from people who have ‘been there and done it’. The time, support and advice we offer could cost hundreds of pounds in consultancy fees but it’s offered free because the programme is publicly funded.

“So this is really a call to action for businesses in the region to sign up now and make the most of the team’s support while it’s guaranteed.

“Whether it’s a bank loan, a grant or a more substantial equity investment, we draw on decades of experience. We de-mystify the options, provide hands-on support to help companies make themselves attractive to potential funders and, in some instances secure the opportunity for them to pitch to business angels.”

INFORMATION: Follow-on workshops focus on specific types of finance (grant, bank, equity). Investment-ready businesses are given the opportunity to pitch to business angels. They also get one-to-one sessions with a pitching specialist who will help them hone their pitch and a dry-run pitch before they do it for real. More at www.stjohns.co.uk/finance