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Access to Finance

Summary: The Funding Escalator provides finance to SMEs through a series of repayable expansion and loans of between £25,000 and £300,000. 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 restructured the Funding Escalator to an evergreen model in 2019

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

Total LEP investment of Local Growth Funds (LGF) by year: 2012/13 £7.3m, 2016/17 £1m, 2017/18 £3m (committed)

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

Status: £12,738,109 invested in total (27% increase from last year): 968 jobs created/safeguarded (an additional 216 jobs since 2017-18). £34,504,444 of private funding was raised by approved clients either alongside or after LEP intervention

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


Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub

Summary: The Business Growth Hub is the first stop shop for business support in Berkshire, 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

Total cost of scheme: £3.67 million (BEIS grants, RDA Legacy Funds, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and private finance)

Status: Since its establishment, the Growth hub has:

Engaged with 3,133 businesses - 48% increase from 2018/19

Provided intensive support to 946 businesses (860 through the High Growth Hub Programme and 86 through the ScaleUp Berkshire Programme) – 28& increase from 2019/19

Assisted 384 pre-start/start-ups to start a business – increase of 96% from 2018/19

Created 244 and safeguarded 43 jobs

Scheme benefits: The Hub provides a multi-tiered business support service:  online Information & Resources Tool, access to events, clinics and masterclasses, light touch advice via email or phone, Pre-accelerator Programme for those looking to start a business, a High Growth Programme offering 1:1 support for eligible Berkshire SMEs who demonstrate high growth potential and the ScaleUp Berkshire Programme providing account management to businesses which have achieved a 20% growth rate year-on-year, for the past three years, and have an annual turnover of over £1m. These services typically assist businesses in developing their growth strategies through new product development, exploiting new markets, raising funding, addressing recruitment challenges and creating employment.