Business Support and Funding
Berkshire Business Growth Hub
Since 2013 the LEP has invested over £1.5m into the establishment of a Business Growth Hub, the place to start for information and advice on growing your business. The Hub is projected to create 177 jobs by 31 March 2018 and since its establishment, it has engaged with 1,007 businesses and leveraged £3.66m debt and equity investment into client companies.
There’s an array of business support information and guidance out there so our aim is to simplify. The short cuts below should help with the top line support facilities available for your needs:
Connect TVT helps raise the profile of tech innovators and accelerate the growth of digital businesses in the LEP area by lobbying, promoting and connecting start-ups, investors, employers, educators and mentors. It runs from GROW@GreenPark, a hybrid co-working space home to a fast-growing community of start-ups, freelancers, developers and scale-ups. ConnectTVT has created a stand-out events programme including Thames Valley Tech Week and the Festival of Digital Disruption, as well 50 Game Changers, launched to celebrate the region’s most innovative and disruptive businesses.
Growing Places Fund
A Growing Places Fund of just over £15m was awarded to the LEP by government in 2012, to promote jobs and economic growth in the area. It is structured as a revolving loan fund.
The GPF is designed to generate economic activity by addressing immediate infrastructure to enable the delivery of jobs and housing. The fund is based on principles of investment, repayment and reinvestment, where applicants repay the loaned monies so that the LEP can re-invest into further schemes across the area. The £15m fund can only be used for capital expenditure and has an average loan term of five years.
The LEP has helped to kick-start local projects including the forward-funding of three town centre regeneration schemes. This investment will help to create over 5,000 homes and 9,000 jobs in the short to medium term.
In early 2013, the LEP took the bold and innovative step to invest £8.3m GPF into a bespoke Funding Escalator; the first such investment of GPF by a LEP. The Funding Escalator is managed by the (FCA-regulated) FSE Group and is bespoke for high growth potential SMEs. Over £6.5m has already been approved in business loans and equity for local start-ups and expanding, next generation businesses.
Legitimate requests for GPF loans can be categorised as follows:
- SMEs with high growth potential are referred to the FSE Group as the Funding Escalator is designed for these types of applicants
- Proposals to address infrastructure and site constraints, and promote the delivery of housing are referred to the Growing Places Fund guidance.
European Structural and Investment Funds
In 2013, the Thames Valley Berkshire area was “notionally” allocated circa £25m of European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF) to be invested over a seven-year period between 2014 and 2020. These funds comprise:
The ESIF Strategy and the Strategic Economic Plan are entirely complementary, with the former providing a key mechanism for the implementation of the latter. Our role and that of our partners is an advisory one through membership of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Area ESIF Sub Committee. All funding decisions remain with the Managing Authorities (MAs):