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    Posted 20 September 2001

    SENIOR LECTURER Izzy Warren-Smith, the driving force behind the Women In Rural Enterprise (WiRE) initiative at Harper Adams University College, has been awarded a HEFCE/DTI Business Fellowship. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Trade and Industry, has awarded just eleven academics nationwide with one of the Business Fellowships, worth up to £25,000 a year until 2005.

    The newly created HEFCE/DTI Business Fellows will strengthen links between Higher Education and industry and help boost business success by using their expertise to advise companies on technical and research problems.

    Mrs Warren-Smith has been awarded £25,000 a year for the next four years to allow her to concentrate on the WiRE initiative, provide business start-up support for small enterprises in the rural sector and set-up accredited training and education programmes.

    She said: "I'm really excited about the opportunities that this offers and it is a real privilege to be able to have the free time to pursue something that I am quite passionate about, without having to balance it up with other commitments.

    "My first aim really is to sort out the organisation of the WiRE and look closely at what needs to be done to reach members businesses in rural areas and provide for the very specific needs that they have got.

    "We know our customers very well and, particularly under the Harper Adams banner, people trust us to be an objective source of help. They understand that we are impartial and that we understand their problems."

    Current projects in development include a financial package for WiRE members with HSBC Bank. This unique package includes a base rate loan for business start-up and development, free consultancy and advice, a sympathetic banking manager and access to the business help-line.

    Mrs Warren-Smith said: "We have an excellent relationship with HSBC. They have been very easy to work with - generous and genuinely interested in helping."

    Other developments include a programme of training in financial management and for the 2002 conference next February, the planned speakers and workshops should be bigger and better than ever before.

    Mrs Warren-Smith said: "In future, we will make sure that we provide what the customer needs rather than what we think they want. What we are trying to do, is evolve with those needs."

    For further information on the Women in Rural Enterprise initiative, please contact Izzy Warren-Smith on +44 (0) 1952 815 368 or alternatively, E-mail:

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