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Dragon breathes fire over stifling of business ideas

Former Dragons’ Den investor James Caan told a PIMS audience that there is a lack of “intrapreneurship” in British business.

Caan said: “Sometimes we have people within our organisations who have amazing ideas but in Britain we do not have a culture that encourages intrapreneurship. That is where you have an individual within a business who has an idea to build a business within it.”

He said an employee at his headhunting firm Alexander Mann came to him with an idea to launch a division offering outsourced human resources services for big companies. He backed the idea and the division has recently been sold to Graphite Capital for 93m.

Caan also hit out at banks for creating the credit crunch by lending money to people who could not pay it back. He said banks had failed to learn the lessons of history.

He said: “Before the internet bubble burst, they were valuing businesses that had not even started at 100m. When you look back, it seems crazy but millions of people invested. If you look at the credit crisis today and sub-prime mortgages, rational people would say you do not lend money to people who do not have jobs.

“As with the internet bubble, we missed the fundamentals. If banks had lent money to people who were creditworthy, we would not be in this mess.”

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