Cumbrian businesses have received nearly £190,000 in grants under Cumbria Business Growth Hub’s Subsidy Scheme.
Another £78,000 worth of grants have been approved and, when these go through, a total of 175 businesses will have benefited – with more in the pipeline.
The money is available to SMEs – as long as they meet European Regional Development Fund eligibility criteria – that want to buy-in outside consultancy expertise to help them grow.
Businesses have used the grants to pay for marketing advice, website development, accountancy and finance advice, social media consultancy, public relations and to gain accreditations such as ISO and SALSA.
That isn’t an exhaustive list.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce said: “Many businesses would benefit from professional consultancy to take forward their growth plans but they face barriers.
“The cost may be prohibitive and, even where the business could afford the investment, they can be reluctant to take the step if they’re not confident of the value it will deliver.
“Knowing that you’re buying from someone that knows a lot more about what they’re selling than you know can also, understandably, put SMEs off.
“That’s where the Subsidy Scheme comes in. It’s aimed at encouraging eligible SMEs to take advantage of the great commercial consultancy services available to them.
“If they’d like us to, we can also help them specify a brief, select with confidence and manage the project.
“We’re keen to encourage businesses to make the most of the services available from private sector consultants in Cumbria and beyond. Our Subsidy Scheme supports businesses to do that, enabling them to spend more than they would otherwise and to try new approaches.”
She added: “This scheme is only running for the next few months with all claims to be paid out by the end of December, so anyone who is interested needs to act quickly.”
The scheme for provides grants covering up to 40% of the cost of buying-in consultancy, up to a maximum of £2,000, while a BSUS scheme for business start-ups offers grants up to £1,000.
For more information click here or call Cumbria Business Growth Hub on 0844 257 84 50.
CASE STUDY: CLEANROOM SUPPLIES
Cleanroom Supplies, set up in 2005, supplies disposable and protective clothing of the sort used in hospitals and laboratories.
From humble beginnings, in a small self-store unit, the family-owned business has grown and now occupies a 1,000sq metre warehouse in the fellside village of Cumrew in the Eden Valley.
Read here how Millican used the scheme to revamp its Originals bags
It ships products daily all over the UK, and to Europe and beyond, and supplies domestic customers including the NHS and large multi-national companies.
The business has developed its own range of protective garments, under the Optimum Protection brand, offering quality and value for money.
And it prides itself on a just-in-time capability – 98% of its products can be ordered up until 4pm, sometimes later, for delivery the next morning.
Reputation only gets you so far, however, which is why Cleanroom Supplies decided to pursue a quality assurance accreditation.
It opted for ISO9001, which covers a range of quality management principles including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.
Read here how Claire’s Handmade used the scheme to target wholesale customers
It was a logical step because the business was already operating an internal quality system based on the principles of ISO9001.
Alice Hill, General Manager, said: “We were putting together a quality management system and we wanted to get ISO accreditation because it gives customers more confidence in our business.
“That’s particularly important when you’re supplying the NHS.”
It was clear that the business would need to buy-in expertise to guide it through ISO9001 accreditation, and such expertise doesn’t come cheap.
Alice explored what help might be available to defray the cost and found out about the Subsidy Scheme through the Growth Hub website.
Cleanroom Systems applied for, and received, a grant for £900.
She 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 I’m delighted to say that we attained ISO9001 in June last year.”
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. The Ministry for Housing 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 Subsidy Scheme 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.
© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce