jump to content

Project: Access to Finance

Project Title: Access to Finance.

Summary: The Funding Escalator provides finance to SMEs through a series of repayable Expansion and Commercialisation loans of between £25,000 and £200,000. The Thames Valley Berkshire Growth Fund invests in high growth SMEs and can provide up to £250,000 of equity. A diverse range of businesses have been offered support, from music composition to medical diagnostics, and more recently security software and temperature-controlled containers. The LEP Forum has agreed to restructure the Funding Escalator to an evergreen model from 2019.

Delivery Partner: The FSE Group (FCA-regulated Fund Manager).

LEP investment by year: 2012/13 £7.3m, 2016/17 £1m, 2017/18 £3m (committed).

Total cost of scheme: £11.3m Growing Places Fund capital.

Status: £6,511,700 Loans provided across 55 loans to 42 separate SMEs: 467 jobs created/safeguarded (£7.52m of private funding raised by approved clients either alongside or after LEP intervention)

£1,413,860 Equity investment provided to 7 separate SMEs: 118 jobs created/safeguarded (£13.16m of private funding raised by approved clients either alongside or after LEP intervention)

£7,925,560 Total provided: 585 jobs created/safeguarded (£20m of private funding raised by approved clients either alongside or after LEP intervention)

Investment by local authority area:

Unitary Authority






% of Total



% of Total







Bracknell Forest BC


0.0 %



5.7 %

Reading BC


14.3 %



38.2 %

RB Windsor & Maidenhead


14.3 %



21.8 %

Slough BC


0.0 %



9.1 %

West Berks C


71.4 %



23.6 %

Wokingham BC


0.0 %



1.8 %









100.0 %



100.0 %


Scheme benefits: Loans and equity are offered to companies with aspirations to grow quickly and create jobs who may have been unable to find conventional finance due to insufficient track-record. This helps businesses to maximise their prospects, bringing jobs and further prosperity to the area.

Project: Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub

Summary: The Business Growth Hub is the first stop shop for business support in Berkshire with the aim to enhance and accelerate business performance, help more businesses to take advantage of national and local support programmes, increase jobs and raise levels of exporting.

Delivery Partner: Oxford Innovation Services

LEP investment by year: Regional Growth Funds 2014/15: £1,231,809

BEIS Grant 2015/16: £250,000, 2016/17: £205,000, 2017/18: £205,000, 2018/19: £205,000, 2019/20: £205,000

SEEDA Legacy Funds £216,000 to be defrayed by 2021

ERDF Funds 2017/2021: £734,658

Private sector funds 2017/2021: £319,912

Total cost of scheme: £3.16 million.

Status: Since its establishment, the Growth hub has:

  • Engaged with 1,442 businesses
  • Provided intensive support to 538 businesses
  • Assisted 85 pre-start/start-ups to start a business
  • Leveraged £3.98m debt and equity investment into client companies
  • Provided Skills & Knowledge based training to 212 business leaders.
  • Created 180 and safeguarded 43 jobs

Scheme benefits: The Hub provides a two-tier business support service, an online advice resources and events programme and Growth Hub Touch Points throughout the area; and 1:1 support and ongoing account management delivered by dedicated Business Champions to entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs.

Project: Thames Valley Science Park

Summary: The Thames Valley Science Park provides a campus style environment designed to encourage collaboration amongst a community of ambitious like-minded companies who have an ability to make a genuine difference to the local region and the wider world. It is amongst the biggest dedicated science parks in the area and one of the largest in the South East.

Delivery Partner: The University of Reading.

LEP investment by year: 2016/17 £5 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) enabled through the LEP’s ESIF Strategy.

Total cost of scheme: £35 million total initial investment from University of Reading and the ERDF.

Status: The Gateway Building opened in March 2018 providing flexible office and laboratory space for around 20 technology-led companies ranging from early stage start-ups to global research and development centres. These include companies such as BioInteractions Limited, Covance, Sage People and Clasado BioSciences. The Gateway Building also includes an Innovation Catalyst Hub providing specialist support to entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

An innovative cancer treatment centre  is under construction and will open later in 2018 (Proton Partners International Ltd). The centre will help to meet growing demand for proton beam therapy, a specialised type of cancer treatment not yet available in the UK.

Outline planning consent was granted by Wokingham Borough Council in May 2017 for the second phase of the Park on the remaining 600,000 sq. ft. of the site, to be developed as and when required.

Scheme benefits: The Science Park will eventually deliver approximately 800,000 sq. ft. of space to create a new community of innovation and technology led companies. It has the potential to create up to 5,000 jobs on completion.

Project: Science and Innovation Audits (SIAs)

Science & Innovation Audits were introduced by government in 2015 to encourage investment in R&D. The LEP is a member of three SIA consortia collaborating with universities, cities, other LEPs and business to map the strengths of different regions. The SIAs will link into the Industrial Strategy highlighting the importance of science, innovation and place and therefore play an important role in future funding allocations/competitive bidding.

Innovation South

Partners: Six neighbouring LEPs, over 100 private enterprises, industry representatives, 16 Universities, 17 research institutions, strategic partners and 9 Local Authorities.

Status: The partnership is working to implement five key opportunities identified by the Audit, which was published in September 2017: Knowledge to Market Accelerator, Linking Innovation Hotpots, Quantum Supply Chain, 5G Innovation Centre and Advanced Skills in Digital Technologies.

Focus: Commercialising Digital Enabling Technologies:  Cyber Security, Digital (5G), Big Data, Photonics and Quantum in 4 key sectors – Connected Digital, Bio-Science, Advanced Engineering and Marine & Maritime.

Oxford Technologies Transformative Alliance SIA

Partners:  A core consortium (OxLEP, Oxford Brookes University, University of Oxford, STFC, UKAEA, the Satellite Applications Catapult, Oxford AHSN and Oxford University Innovation) and the involvement of industrial partners. Four LEPs are included: Thames Valley Berkshire, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough, Enterprise M3 and North East.

Status: The work on the SIA has stimulated increased networking between the four themes and has identified opportunities for Oxfordshire to be a living lab for the testing and roll out of new technologies. The LEP is continuing to explore potential areas for collaboration.

Focus: Disruptive digital technologies across 4 themes: Digital Health, Autonomous Vehicles/Robotics/Motorsport, Space-led data applications, Quantum Technologies.

Innovation for Sustainable Future Airports

Partners: Led by Brunel University the partnership includes, Royal Holloway, University of London, Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd, TRL, The Heathrow Strategic Planning Group Buckinghamshire, Thames Valley LEP, The Smart Specialisation Hub, West London Business and BRE. The consortium also has a range of supporting partners.

Status: Ongoing. The final report will be published in June 2018.

Focus: Big Data and Cyber Security, Intelligent Mobility, Sustainable Construction and Operational Excellence themes, to help make Heathrow and the UK system of businesses the home of Sustainable Airport innovation by 2020.