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Business Support and Funding

Berkshire Business Capital Grant Fund

The Berkshire LEP recently launched a one-off business capital grant scheme – the Berkshire Business Capital Grant Fund - targeted at businesses in the Berkshire area that are high growth or potential high growth (‘scale-up’) enterprises.

A total of approximately £500,000 is being made available for investment at this time, from the LEP’s Local Growth Fund and Getting Building Fund allocation. Capital grants of between £25,000 and £50,000 is being made available to successful applicants. This grant sum must be matched by an equivalent amount invested by the business applicant in their growth project. All expenditure must be claimed by 30th September 2022. It is that anticipated around 15-20 successful grant awards will be made on a competitive basis.

Given the scale of funds available, the associated grant administration processes and short timeframe to spend the monies, the LEP Board approved the targeting of grants at high growth or potential high growth (‘scale-up’) businesses in order to provide greatest impact and return on investment for the Berkshire economy.  The targeted approach was designed to provide a manageable level of applications to administer rather than marketing the fund to a large number of businesses looking for general funding and unfairly raise expectations.

The LEP has used the Beauhurst Business Database ( recognised as one of the most authoritative sources of high growth scale-up businesses data and used by  Scale Up Institute  as the base for their work) and businesses on the Growth Hub’s business databases to identify and contact SMEs who most closely meet the OECD criteria of a high growth/potential high growth, scale-up business. Beauhurst broadly follow the OECD definition of High Growth in their filtering process – i.e.  a firm of 10 or more employees that grows either its staff or turnover by an average of more than 20 per cent per year for three consecutive years.

The aim of the Fund is to provide grant funding to a number of scale-up businesses to support investment projects that will enable them to capitalise on expansion opportunities or address barriers to their growth, where they do not have sufficient capital of their own to do so, or cannot access it from another source. The focus is on business expansion that will facilitate increased productivity, employment generation and greener, cleaner growth.

The Berkshire Business Capital Grant Fund is part of a wider package of finance measures provided by the LEP to support businesses to grow. This includes the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, providing next stage finance with loans and equity, and Berkshire Low Carbon Workspaces grant for businesses looking to de-carbonise their workspaces.

The Berkshire Growth Hub has been successful in supporting scale-ups through its Scale-Up Berkshire service and Peer Networks programme and the Berkshire Business Capital Grant Fund will continue this support for the Berkshire scale-up community by helping scale-up businesses implement their growth plans.

 

Berkshire Growth Hub

The Berkshire 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.

There is a wide range of business support available from a variety of public and private sector providers in Berkshire. Visit the Berkshire Growth Hub to find links to local and national business services and access initial business advice and resources via an online Information & Resource Tool.


Growing Places Fund

A Growing Places Fund (GPF) 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.

We have invested £11.3m of Growing Places Fund capital into a bespoke ‘Funding Escalator’ offering loan and equity investments of £25,000 to £300,000 to a diverse range of growth-potential SMEs support, from music composition to medical diagnostics, and more recently security software and temperature-controlled containers.

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.

To see how the LEP has invested Growing Places Funds in Berkshire, view our Growing Places Fund eBook


European Structural and Investment Funds

In 2013, the 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 Berkshire LEP Area ESIF Sub Committee. All funding decisions remain with the Managing Authorities (MAs).