07/12/2012 11:44 GMT

Duke Of York Lends Support To The Alternative Financing Industry For Small Business

Prince Andrew has agreed to help alternative funding models for SMEs to gain credibility and raise awareness.

The Duke of York met several investment specialists on 4 December to discuss how he could become involved with promoting alternative finance models, which include peer-to-peer lending networks and crowdfunding initiatives.

Jeff Lynn, chief executive of Seedrs - the only Financial Services Authority regulated online platform for investing in startups - was at the meeting at Buckingham Palace, and told the Huffington Post UK the Duke seemed "keen to lend his publicity and encourage investment".

"Prince Andrew has stepped back from his foreign roles over the past year, and instead become interested in a number of the initiatives around financing small businesses," he said.

"He understands that the established financial services have created the biggest unknown risk to investors, and he seemed supportive of our start-up models."

It's hoped the Duke will help to actively promote alternative lending and financing models, potentially in the role as an ambassador or patron of a trade body for the sector.

"There are currently several relevant trade bodies; the Peer-to-Peer Lending Finance Association, the Crowdfunding Association, but in my view the Next Generation Finance Consortium would be the best fit for the Duke," Lynn said.

Lynn also revealed that despite several public comments of support from both the business minister Michael Fallon and the secretary of state for business Vince Cable, neither had taken the time to speak with the group who met with Prince Andrew.

Seedrs also celebrated being granted membership of the UK Business Angels Association in December. Lynn told Huff Post UK the membership showed Seedrs was a serious new part of the angel investment world, as well as a new way for the smaller investor to enjoy the satisfaction and high potential returns from investing in startup businesses.

The Duke of York last hit the headlines when he overcame his fears and abseiled down the Shard in London, raising more than £290,000 for the Outward Bound Trust's charity.

See pictures of his exploits below.