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 oversees a growing range of specialist business support programmes funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) called the Hertfordshire Growth Package.
Hertfordshire Growth Hub has been successfully co-ordinating integrated business support since 2014, led by business support services provider Exemplas. In the 2018/19 financial year, Hertfordshire LEP awarded the contract to a consortium of private and public sector partners, significantly strengthening its offer to local businesses and helping it to achieve its vision to deliver the best growth hub in the country. The consortium is led by Exemplas and includes 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.
Over 2018/19, nearly 4,000 businesses received support from the Growth Hub and co-located partners, with 93% of clients reporting they were satisfied and 95% saying they would recommend the service. 100% of customers that received in-depth support were referred to further provision. A total of 1,693 referrals were made to other provisions within the county. Over the financial year, a total of £570k was leveraged, which included £300k of European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), allowing more SMEs to access intensive support and grant funding via the continuation of the successful Get Growing project.
The Growth Hub has secured further funding to deliver Get Growing 2, enabling it to continue to target support to high growth businesses. This means that hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses across Hertfordshire can access new grants of up to £3,000 or one-to-one advice. The Get Growing project is the second funded by ERDF, with the first having successfully helped over 200 businesses, created 190 jobs and generated £12.2m for the local economy.
The Growth Hub's new digital platform supplements the work of its revamped advisory team and is set to transform the way businesses access support by bringing together a network of leading local, regional and national business support providers in one central location. This means that Hertfordshire Growth Hub is now the entry point to all business support provision within the county and is responsible for the seamless coordination, alignment and collaboration of services.
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.