LEP clinches £3.9m to help hundreds of new firms grow

Andy Wood, chair of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership. Photo: Bill Smith Andy Wood, chair of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, December 6, 2013
12:31 PM

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured £3.9m to support 1,000 businesses, help launch 200 business start-ups and create 200 jobs.

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The LEP clinched the money as part of Ipswich and Norwich City deals to stimulate growth in both areas. The deal will also lever in a further £8m of public and private sector funding.

Funding will be used to create a growth hub for greater Ipswich and greater Norwich, which will provide Norfolk and Suffolk businesses with a route for accessing business support.

Businesses will be afforded greater and simpler access to national and local business support, as well as access to several new support programmes.

These will include an early stage grant scheme, providing grants between £5,000 and £50,000 for businesses in first year of trading; an innovation readiness programme helping businesses apply to innovation programmes and draw down higher levels of funding to support growth; innovation vouchers allowing companies to buy expertise at reduced cost from regional universities and a business start-up programme, which will expand available support.

Growth Hub coordinators will be able to provide a first point of contact for any business, providing a diagnostic service and accurate information on support schemes to unlock both local and national support and funding.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce will be responsible for the management of the growth hub, with other elements provided by enterprise agencies NWES, MENTA, Finance East, University of East Anglia, University Campus Suffolk and Norwich University for the Arts.

LEP chairman Andy Wood said: “We know that business support is complex and often businesses aren’t able to find the help and support they require.

“Our aim is to break down the barriers caused by this uncertainty and guide businesses to help and support to enable them grow to their full potential.”

Councillor Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “Nationally, less than 50pc of SMEs seek advice, but those that do are twice as likely to grow. The provision of business support programmes is therefore vital.”

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