Around 2,000 businesses have received intensive support since Cumbria Business Growth Hub was set up in 2012.
Here, businesses of different sizes, operating across a variety of sectors, explain how the Growth Hub helped them.
I Do Cumbria Wedding Hire
Jane Donaldson, from Maryport, launched I Do Cumbria Wedding Hire to provide accessories for the perfect wedding.
She said: “We looked at what help was available for start-ups, got in touch with the Growth Hub and went on the Business Start-Up Support scheme (BSUS).
“My adviser, Justine Douglas, acted as a sounding board and has been very good at picking things up and giving me ideas. She also put me on a three-day business start-up course.
“She referred me to a marketing specialist, Judy Fraser, who made me realise that this was something I needed to make time for.
“The Growth Hub has been extremely helpful. It would have taken longer to get where I am without Justine’s help. She’s given me confidence.”
The prospects for Mitchell Dryers appeared bleak when administrators were called in and made 27 of the 32-strong workforce redundant.
The Carlisle firm, trading since 1859, made industrial dryers for the food, chemical, mineral and pharmaceutical industries.
Up stepped CAD Works, based at Kingmoor Park, Carlisle, which bought the intellectual property rights and some assets.
It has built new premises to accommodate the enlarged business, made possible by a Cumbria Growth Fund grant – with advice through Cumbria Business Growth Hub – to support the £1.2m project.
Company Secretary John Frankland said: “The grant was crucial to the whole project. The funds were used on the first stage to build workshops, followed by second stage offices to accommodate the increase in staffing levels.”
Michael Bonney Consulting
Michael Bonney was paralysed from the neck down when he came off his bike while participating in the Eden Valley Epic in 2013.
Being confined to a wheelchair – breathing for the most part with the aid of a ventilator – hasn’t stopped him from setting up a consultancy business. Bikes have been a lifelong passion and his new venture, Michael Bonney Consulting, counts a bike parts distributor and a cycling events company its clients.
He was able to launch the business thanks to the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme, which is delivered by Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
He said: “The reality is I can’t do a 9-5 job but I can manage three or four hours a day. You have to accept the limitations of a broken body.
“The funding from New Enterprise Allowance enabled me to get to trade shows. The best way I can demonstrate to potential clients what I can do for them is to meet face to face. But it takes a lot of doing. I have to have a hospital bed in my hotel room and two support workers to look after me.”
Kendal Nutricare produces the only British-made infant formula. Unlike competitors, it incorporates full-cream natural nutrients.
Ross McMahon founded the business when he bought the Heinz baby food factory in Kendal in 2015, saving the jobs of 88 staff there. He drew up a three-year growth plan with the help of a Growth Hub adviser. This identified export markets, China in particular, as key drivers.
Through the Growth Hub, he was able to secure a £365,000 Cumbria Growth Fund grant to gear up for expansion and was referred to Department for International Trade advisers to begin Kendal Nutricare’s export journey.
In 2016, the business signed a £6m deal to sell to China. It has since entered markets in Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East.
Ross said: “Cumbria Business Growth Hub, from the beginning, encouraged us to think global and were always available to help explain the benefits.”
Chimney Sheep, in Maryport, makes draught excluders for fireplaces from Cumbrian Herdwick wool. Ecologist Sally Phillips hit on the idea when she realised that heat in her Victorian house was escaping up the chimneys.
She said: “When I heard about the Growth Hub, the business was already three-and-a-half years old. It had grown organically but I felt that I needed some structure and ideas of how to grow it in a more organised way.”
Through the Growth Hub, she enrolled on the Cumbria Forum programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School.
She said: “Cumbria Forum was just what I was looking for. It’s about developing yourself as a business person, having a clear understanding of your business, a clear strategy about what you want to do and confidence in your own skills as a manager.
“A lot of the things they were talking about I was doing, and that was good for my confidence because I don’t have a business background.”
David Herington launched Nixor Solutions in Barrow in 2016 to help businesses dealing with complex processes to improve their performance. The business is developing a software and statistical analysis package.
Nixor received support from Growth Hub adviser Alan Smithson to help set-up the business and apply for a grant from Innovus, which supports Cumbrian SMEs looking to commercialise innovative technologies. The grant application was successful.
David said: “The Innovus grant was a proof of concept grant and enabled us to take on our first employee to work on software development. It also opened doors for us within Sellafield Ltd.
“Alan’s help was invaluable. He helped us draw up a business and marketing plan, and was a sounding board for our ideas.
“We probably could have done it without him but, at the time, it felt like we couldn’t. Even when we thought we had everything right, he pointed out areas or things we could do much better.”
Cumberland Windows, in Egremont, supplies windows, doors and conservatories. Two years ago founder Dominic and his son Michael drew up a strategy to grow the business. Michael was hunting for information about grants when a Google search directed him to Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
He found that he was eligible for business support, funded by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. Adviser Adrian Luckham identified that the business should improve its marketing, especially the web site.
Michael said: “Orders were coming almost entirely through word-of-mouth recommendation. The website was generating only 5% of sales.”
A grant through the Growth Hub’s Subsidy Scheme enabled Cumberland Windows to commission Wombat Creative to design a new web site.
Michael said: “This has been a step change for the business. We are building a brand. The website showcases our expertise, experience and reputation, and allows us to demonstrate to customers that we are knowledgeable about our products, energy efficiency and security.”
Cleanroom Supplies, set up in 2005, supplies disposable and protective clothing of the sort used in hospitals and laboratories.
The business occupies a 1,000sq metre warehouse at Cumrew in the Eden Valley. It ships products daily all over the UK, and to Europe and beyond. Customers include NHS and multi-national companies.
Cleanroom Supplies decided to pursue a quality assurance accreditation and opted for ISO9001. It was clear that the business would need to buy-in expertise to guide it through the process, and that doesn’t come cheap.
General Manager Alice Hill explored what help might be available to defray the cost and came across the Growth Hub’s Subsidy Scheme. Cleanroom Systems applied for, and received, a grant for £900.
Alice said: “Applying was straightforward. The grant was to pay towards a consultant who would audit the quality management system and tell us what we need to do before we applied for accreditation. Our adviser, Peter Fleming, guided us through the whole process and we subsequently attained ISO9001.”
To find out how Cumbria Business Growth Hub can help your business, click here or call 0844 257 84 50.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub this comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP.
The Growth Hub is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. Likewise, BSUS is receiving up to £1,112,686 of funding, Cumbria Forum project is receiving £446,000 of funding, and the Subsidy Scheme £2,528,767.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.
The New Enterprise Allowance project is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and allocated as match funding against the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-20 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
The Employee Support in Skills Project is receiving up to £8.5m funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-20 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
The Department for Work and Pensions is the managing authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information click here.
© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce