Leading role for EDP Future 50 chief in government’s new Growth Voucher scheme

PUBLISHED: 10:38 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:41 27 January 2014

Nicole Jameson founder of Search Fruits

Nicole Jameson founder of Search Fruits

YelloHat Photo

The government is today set to launch a new £30m initiative to support business growth.

Opportunity for Searchfruits

Among those attending the launch is Nicole Jameson, pictured, founder of digital marketing agency SearchFruits.

The mother-of-three used a £1,500 grant from Broadland District Council to help set up the business in January 2012
She said: “I attended an early presentation by Lord Young in May 2013 at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills when the Growth Voucher Scheme was embryonic. I was impressed at how open the government was in embracing ideas as to how the scheme should be put into practice.

“I’ve kept a really close eye on it since and was thrilled to be invited to be part of the official launch.

“It’s actually a research project trying to understand how best to support the micro-business to grow with future funding. The important bit is actually achieving additionality – finding those businesses that have not previously sought advice.

“It’s great that the government recognises the essential part that digital technology plays in the growth of today’s small businesses. As an accredited supplier to the Growth Voucher Scheme SearchFruits is ready and waiting to help Norfolk

small business to achieve just that.

“It’s such a huge opportunity and I’m really looking forward to being part of it. I only formed SearchFruits at the beginning of 2012 and we’re, by definition, a micro-business ourselves.

“We may well be giving advice on our specialist area of digital technology while receiving advice in one of the other categories.

“It’s also going to be useful to see the outcome of the research project and how small business benefits the best – whether it’s telephone support, one-to-one advice, online courses. It’ll hopefully help us shape how we provide advice and consultancy in the future.”

Nicole Jameson will be tweeting from the launch via @SearchFruits.

NWES chairman Kevin Horne is also playing a leading role in the Growth Vouchers Scheme aimed at supporting small businesses in finding advice and support needed to fulfil their growth potential.

The initiative appears to be a fresh attempt to fill the void left since the coalition scrapped Business Link in 2012 seeking to shift the emphasis to more targeted support.

And it follows a separate growth hub initiative from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Suffolk and Norfolk Chambers which seeks to provide focused advice and support to small and medium sized firms in the Greater Norwich and Ipswich areas as part of the City Deals initiative.

Mr Horne, who is also the lead sponsor of the EDP’s Future 50 initiative is attending a launch event today at 10 Downing Street in his role as chairman of the Cavendish Consortium, a group including six of the largest enterprise agencies across England, and the National Enterprise Network.

Over the next 15 months the Growth Vouchers scheme, which is part of a trial research initiative, will test what works best when giving advice to business.

Small businesses will receive free advice to help them assess their needs and most participants will be offered match funding of up to £2,000 to access strategic advice through the Enterprise Nation online marketplace of accredited private suppliers.

Mr Horne said: “With over 30 years’ experience of delivering excellence in enterprise support to small businesses and business start-ups, the NWES team alongside our partners in the Cavendish Consortium are looking forward to offering the guidance business owners need to make the most of the opportunity offered by the Growth Vouchers scheme to take their businesses towards greater success.”

Enterprise and skills minister Matthew Hancock said: “Access to high quality business advice at the right time can make the difference for small business owners aiming to realise their ambitions. Whether it is growth, moving into new markets or hiring more staff, there is a wealth of expertise available to small businesses.

“Growth Vouchers will allow us to find out scientifically what advice small businesses value, and to shape government advice in the future according to business need.”

Businesses that seek advice are more likely to grow and we want to help them access the support they need. Growth vouchers offer expert advice under the themes of raising finance and managing cash flow; recruiting and developing staff; improving leadership and management skills; marketing, attracting and keeping customers; and making the most of digital technology.”

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