Home News Cumbria Business Growth Hub can help your business flourish

Cumbria Business Growth Hub can help your business flourish

Help, support, advice, guidance

Cumbria Business Growth Hub was set up by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce in 2012 as a one-stop shop for business support.

At the time, there was no public funding for business support, but the Chamber identified a need and stepped in to fill the gap.

Since then, we have worked directly with more than 6,800 businesses, of which 2,000 have benefited from intensive assistance. This has already created or safeguarded 6,824 jobs and generated an estimated £280m GVA.

The Growth Hub’s success led the Government to adopt it as the model for business support across the country – a real Cumbrian success story.

Growth ConceptWe couldn’t have achieved all this without our partners, from government departments to local authorities, Cumbria LEP, the University of Cumbria, LUMS, training providers and FE colleges.

We have programmes with five of Cumbria’s six district councils – Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Eden and South Lakeland.

For many businesses, their first contact with the Growth Hub is through the website, www.cumbriagrowthhub.co.uk, which has just been relaunched in an improved format. The portal has an impressive 120,000 unique users.

It incorporates the Knowledge Centre with information on starting up, marketing, sales, productivity, product development, exporting, acquisitions, finance, sustainability and employing staff.

There are forums where businesses can interact and exchange ideas, an events calendar, news section, and training videos.

A funding tool allows businesses to search for grants, loans and sources of venture capital, and a skills section provides information on apprenticeships and how to upskill your workforce, including access to free training.

Training is now available through webinars too.

One of the Growth Hub’s great strengths is our network of 60 experienced advisers who offer one-to-one support to businesses.

They offer generic support and advice, as well as specialist advice in areas such as ICT, marketing, human resources and finance.

AdviserAn adviser works with each business to review its individual needs and aspirations, and develop a personalised action plan setting out a co-ordinated package of support.

They can help with grant applications and refer clients into initiatives run by the Growth Hub or other agencies.

Growth Hub programmes include:


Business Start-Up Support Scheme (BSUS)

This helps businesses get off the ground and steers them through the first three years. So far it has helped 1,200 individuals – more than 540 have started so far, with more in the pipeline.

The scheme is open to anyone thinking of starting a business, and SMEs in the first three years of trading.

They have access to free support including a three-day course covering the basics of starting a business and ‘Enterprise Events’ offering a menu of workshops and seminars.

The package includes a minimum of 12 hours’ support with one of our business advisers to review and develop the business idea, including preparation of a business plan and application for Subsidy Scheme grants.

For more information, click here.


Cumbria Growth Fund

This allowed manufacturing businesses – and those in services to manufacturing – to apply for grants of between £10,000 and £1m to support growth and competitiveness.

It was launched in 2015 after Cumbria Chamber of Commerce took part in a national competitive tendering process to secure £4m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

The scheme supported 44 businesses with £3.8m of grants, helping to create or safeguard 539 jobs and lever in £25m of private investment. Demand was so great that the funding could have been allocated several times over.


New Enterprise Allowance

This national employment initiative is accessed through the Growth Hub after Cumbria Chamber of Commerce won a series of tenders from the DWP to deliver New Enterprise Allowance in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside.

Female floristThe aim is to move jobseekers off benefits by helping them become their own boss. Across the region, we have supported 8,500 individuals looking to start a business, with 5,500 created so far.

Applicants, who must be referred by their JobCentre, get a business mentor, financial support for six months and can apply for a loan of up to £25,000.

The scheme also helps those who have started trading but receive Universal Credit because their income from self-employment is low.


Profiting through Skills

This is the Growth Hub’s promotional campaign supporting the £8.5m Employee Support in Skills Project campaign to tackle skills shortages by helping Cumbrian SMEs to train apprentices and upskill their existing workforce.

This is funded by the European Social Fund and delivered by a group of Cumbrian partners, led by Carlisle College.

A Growth Hub adviser carries out a review of a business’ training needs to identify where improved skills could help. They pass the assessment to an experienced training provider, or providers, who contacts the business to arrange training programmes funded through the scheme and elsewhere.

Businesses need to take advantage of the funding before July.

For more information, click here.


Subsidy Scheme

The scheme helps businesses that would benefit from professional consultancy services to take forward their growth plans.

ERDF-eligible businesses can receive up to £2,000 to cover up to 40% of their consultancy costs, while a scheme for start-ups offers £1,000.

Our advisers help businesses put together a brief to select and manage the best consultant for the task.

Consultancy services covered include marketing advice, web development, accountancy and finance, social media consultancy, quality assurance, public relations and much more.

For more information, click here.


Help for exporters

The Growth Hub helps businesses looking to export for the first time or existing exporters looking to increase international sales through our links with the Department for International Trade.

ExportsEvents and online content offer inspiration and information, including stories from successful exporters and videos and workshops on topics such as starting exporting, export finance and protecting IP.

We link businesses into DIT support such as the First Steps to Export programme and one-to-one support from advisers to help them start exporting, target new markets and access overseas buyers and supply chains.

We can signpost businesses to support for insurance policies, bonds, credit and working capital through UK Export Finance.

The Growth Hub also enables businesses to access the Chamber’s export documentation services and workshops run by Chamber Business Solutions.

For more information, click here.


Supply Chain Gateway

The Supply Chain Gateway helps SMEs understand what procurers in large organisations expect from suppliers and how to comply with their criteria, enabling them to win lucrative contracts.

SMEs get access to professional advisers, sources of funding, networking opportunities, training courses and workshops. Much of this is free of charge.

There are online forums where businesses can swap tips and exchange experiences, a business directory, interactive tools and an events diary.

Large procurers such as Innovia, BAE Systems, Pirelli, Booths, the Box Encapsulation Plant at Sellafield, and Morgan Sindall, are participating. Modules and short video presentations explain what SMEs need to do to supply them. There are also lists of tender opportunities.

The Growth Hub links businesses to other available support, such as the Cumbria Manufacturing Service and Fit for Nuclear.

For more information, click here.


Cumbria Forum

This is a six-month programme run by Lancaster University Management School as part of the Growth Hub programme, funded by the University and the European Regional Development Fund, which means there is no cost to participating businesses.

It is aimed at owner-managers, MDs, and senior decision makers at ERDF-eligible SMEs. The idea is to help them develop strategic thought processes and provide the skills and tools they need to evolve their business model.

Delegates are taken out of their comfort zone and are encouraged to think about their business differently and reflectively.

As the programme progresses, they can attend masterclasses from world-class speakers, business workshops, and an “access all areas” company visit, and can interact with each other constantly through an online forum.

There is also an opportunity for participants to have a group of MBA or undergraduate students work on a specific area of their business.

For more information, click here.


Exhibitions and networking

Cumbria is a huge county, so it isn’t always easy for businesses to meet each other and build relationships.

Our GrowthTwenty events are designed to bring businesses together.

They run for a full day at venues across the county, offering exhibition space and a programme of speakers.

Chamber lunchAnother success story is the Family Business Network, established by the Growth Hub and delivered commercially by Sue Howorth of the Family Business Network Ltd as part of the Growth Hub offer.

A core element is InSight events where family businesses share insights and talk candidly about the challenges they face.

To find out how Cumbria Business Growth Hub can help your business, click here or call 0844 257 84 50.

And to read more about the Growth Hub and the businesses that have benefited from it, download our Supporting Success brochure here.

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


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