From the New Year onwards SMEs and budding entrepreneurs are expected to be able to access up to 10 business services as part of an evolving portfolio of support funded by the LEP’s European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) allocation.
Around £8.65m of EU funding is expected to be included within the support package, allocated to contracted business support service projects that meet the criteria for European Regional Development Fund. These include those providing specialist business advice to SMEs, start-up support and support for those within key sectors including life sciences, the creative industries and manufacturing.
While the LEP is not involved in project delivery, it has played a critical role in evaluating the quality of the projects being put forward for funding, to ensure they have a strategic fit with the requirements of growth potential SMEs in Hertfordshire . And despite uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the Chancellor has confirmed that applications for these projects can be developed until the point the UK leaves the EU.
Two of the services are already live: Get Growing and Innovate 2 Succeed, provided by Exemplas, part of the University of Hertfordshire. These services are aimed at providing specialist advice and innovative support to high growth SMEs. A further eight ERDF-funded projects are then expected to go live early in 2017.
Key sector support will be provided by these projects:
ProConnect Hertfordshire: a programme of activity provided by Creative England to grow and support small creative companies working in or aspiring to work in the film & TV sector, either directly or within the wider supply chain.
Manufacturing Growth Programme: the contract will be delivered by Economic Growth Solutions to support growth-focussed manufacturing SMEs.
Hertfordshire Low Carbon Innovation Network: the contract has been awarded to Building Research Establishment to identify, pilot and procure new products and services aimed at reducing carbon emissions in the built environment.
Hertfordshire Knowledge and Innovation Centre for Science (H-KICS): the contract has been awarded to the University of Hertfordshire to support innovation and the commercialisation of intellectual property within life sciences SMEs.
For the full list of ERDF-funded business support projects click here.
To date Hertfordshire LEP has secured a notional allocation of £55m ESIF funding for Hertfordshire to support economic growth, business competitiveness and employment opportunities up to 2020.
This allocation covers three different funding programmes: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
ERDF’s allocation of £27.7m is directed at:
• Strengthening research, technological development & innovation
• Enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs
• Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors