A recent independent report, carried out by Kada Research, has shown that over the last two years Hertfordshire Growth Hub contributed £12.2m to the local economy and created 190 jobs. The report highlights the integral role the Growth Hub plays in enhancing the competitiveness of ambitious local businesses and their capacity to grow in regional, national and international markets.

The service is at the core of local business provision and since its inception in 2014, has delivered impartial support to in excess of 1,700 Hertfordshire-based SMEs. Offering in-depth guidance and advice to businesses that have the propensity to grow, the Growth Hub ensures that all businesses in the county have access to the most appropriate support options available, at any stage of their growth journey.

Charlotte Howie, Founder of luxury children’s towels manufacturer Hooded Owls, reflects on her experience of the service: “We have been blown away by the support provided and the advice and knowledge we’ve received has made a huge difference to my way of thinking. The Growth Hub supported our commercial objectives and the business has grown, resulting in the recruitment of three new employees.”

It is support like this that leads to continued innovation and productivity amongst the county’s businesses. The launch of the Industrial Strategy has increased the focus on innovation, productivity, scale-up and skills, which has led to the Growth Hub's services being aligned to ensure businesses receive the advice and insight needed to succeed.

The report shows that in Hertfordshire, whilst innovation levels are strong it is mostly seen within larger companies, so emphasis needs to be placed on supporting start-ups to grow into the larger businesses of tomorrow. 71% of businesses cited improvements in their approach to growth as an outcome of working with the Growth Hub and 45% stated improved productivity as the wider benefit of accessing the Growth Hub service.

Whilst Hertfordshire is recognised as a county with a highly skilled workforce, businesses cite a struggle to compete with the opportunities and salaries of London as a significant challenge to their business growth. With 20% of the Hertfordshire workforce commuting into the capital daily, it is vital the Growth Hub service supports businesses to attract and retain top talent. It is also important to harness the talent of the future, to which end the Growth Hub’s Skills Brokerage Service offers a £1,500 apprenticeship grant to businesses, enabling them to build the capacity of their people.

The Growth Hub’s service has been strengthened by the recently formed consortium led by business support services provider Exemplas, together with the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce. The consortium recently secured the new contract and will lead the development of the Growth Hub to deliver on the Hertfordshire LEP’s intentions for the Local Industrial Strategy.

Hertfordshire Growth Hub Head of Service, Sian Ryan, elaborates on the consortium’s plans and emphasises the importance of innovating the service to meet the changing demands: “As we enter 2019, there are exciting developments for the Growth Hub service. We understand the growth barriers that affect local businesses and with the changes being driven by the Industrial Strategy, we recognise the need for accessible advice and resources. Understanding this, we are innovating the way we engage with businesses and part of this will be the development of the new digital business advice platform. This will allow businesses to easily engage with the service on demand and access the wealth of support available across the county.”

You can access the Hertfordshire Growth Hub services by visiting www.hertsgrowthhub.com, where you will also find information on the apprenticeship grant and other incentives currently available to Hertfordshire businesses.

If you would like to receive a copy of the report email enquiries@hertsgrowthub.com.

The Hertfordshire Growth Hub is part-funded by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.