Visionary experiment or public sector folie de grandeur

Crain's Manchester Business, has noticed Birmingham's regional stock exchange and asks the question Does Manchester need a regional stock exchange?

Launched in July 2007, InvestBX is a virtual trading platform, the first of it's kind in the UK and with few parallels globally. The trading platform is expected to allow companies to raise upto £2m. Chief Executive Sue Summers described the initiative as follows in the Birmingham Post when it launched last year.

Our aim is to dismantle the financing barriers that have been stopping businesses develop and grow. High quality emerging businesses are often frustrated by difficulties as they seek to move beyond initial rounds of equity finance and bank funding.
"By providing an on-line regional trading platform, combined with a local presence, we will be offering businesses a straightforward and viable route to raising growth capital, at the heart of which is the ability for investors to trade their shares".

There is a regional equity gap, which David Read from the Northwest Regional Development Agency says exists for sums between £250,000 and £2m. So far the only company to trade on InvestBX is Teamworks Karting which has raised £500,000 - half of which it had planned to raise.

While Manchester seems unsure of the worth of the venture the Financial Times has been more optimistic on the experiment describing "if it succeeds, Investbx will be hailed as a visionary experiment other cities should copy. If it fails it will be decried as a manifestation of public sector folie de grandeur" (


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