The LEP is addressing barriers to growth by supporting business, enhancing skills and making the Thames Valley Berkshire area a business destination of choice.
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. We have invested £8.3m of Growing Places Fund capital into a bespoke ‘Funding Escalator’ offering loan and equity investments of £25,000 to £250,000 to growth-potential SMEs; secured £3.1m UK government and European funds for the Berkshire Business Growth Hub, the first stop shop for all business support in the sub-region; and invested European Structural & Investment funds to accelerate the creation of the first-ever Science Park in Berkshire, which will provide specialist space for start-up and growing innovative and technology-based companies.
We have provided early seed-funding to help start GROW@GreenPark, a hybrid incubation and co-working space built to support innovative companies to start and scale their businesses. It also has built a connected eco-system of freelancers, developers and support organisations. GROW is based at Green Park in Reading
The LEP has commissioned research into Incubator, Acceleration and Co-Location Spaces across the area and is now (2017/18) turning its attention to supporting scale-up businesses, in partnership with the Scale Up Institute, Henley Business School and Biz Utd (a B2B network of Mid-Market Enterprises in the Thames Valley).
Its ‘Network of Networks’ project is gaining traction by using the area’s complex and multi-layered business networks to cascade common messages about the LEP and gain business intelligence, through informal champions/ambassadors.
More detail on support for SMEs is here: Business Support & Funding