The Hertfordshire Growth Hub provides free business support to small-to-medium-sized enterprises that have been in operation for 2 years or more and have 5 to 249 employees. The Growth Hub helps businesses grow by providing expert advice on areas such as product development, branding and employee training, whilst enabling them to gain access to technical expertise and R&D funding. It also responds to inward investment enquiries to attract new businesses into the county, hosts events to match its client base with private sector business support providers, and works to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders.
The Growth Hub also oversees a growing range of specialist business support programmes funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) called the Hertfordshire Growth Package.
The Growth Hub was first launched in 2014. In October 2018, following an open and competitive procurement process, Hertfordshire LEP awarded a two year contract for the delivery of the Growth Hub to a consortium led by business support services provider Exemplas, together with the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce.
The Growth Hub aligns with the LEP’s priority of supporting small businesses in Hertfordshire and helping them grow, to create new jobs and increase their contribution to the local economy in the long run. The Growth Hub specifically works to remedy the trend of slow growth amongst Hertfordshire’s numerous SMEs.
In its first year, the Growth Hub worked with 494 clients and helped create 81 jobs, with figures rising to 797 clients and 400 new jobs in 2016/17. A further 13,000 business engaged with the Growth Hub through its website and 800 additional SMEs were supported by its delivery partners at the National Business Support Helpline and WENTA (Hertfordshire’s support agency for start-ups). The LEP also encourages organisations delivering sector specific business projects in line with the Government’s Industrial Strategy, e.g. Hertfordshire Science Partnerships (part of the life sciences sector), to work collaboratively with the Growth Hub to acquire clients.
This project received over £2m of funding in total, of which the LEP secured £924k of funding from the Growth Deal, £350k from the Growing Places Fund, and £780.5k from the European Regional Development Fund.