Cumbria Business Growth Hub is a phenomenal success story.
Since launch in 2012, the one-stop business support service has worked with 7,200 businesses, delivering intensive support to 2,200 of them.
In so doing it has created or safeguarded more than 7,000 jobs and generated around £300m additional GVA for Cumbria.
The Growth Hub is a Chamber-led initiative and many of its services are FREE to eligible businesses thanks to funding from the Chamber and our partners, and government and European funding.
Discover what the Growth Hub can do for you in this podcast with Suzanne Caldwell
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Growth Hub focuses on working with Cumbrian businesses, particularly SMEs, to help them operate more effectively, increase their productivity and maximise profits.
“I’d encourage anyone running a business in our county, or thinking of starting, to get in touch and find out more about the great support on offer. We’re here to help you.”
Could your business benefit? Almost certainly ‘yes’.
Here are six key ways that the Growth Hub is helping Cumbrian businesses. Remember, this isn’t an exhaustive list.
The Growth Hub’s greatest strength is our network of 60 experienced advisers who offer one-to-one support to businesses.
Read here how the Growth Hub helped Cumberland Windows adopt a new marketing strategy
This can be generic support and advice or specialist help in areas such as ICT, marketing, human resources and finance.
A dedicated adviser works with each business to review its needs and aspirations, and to develop a personalised action plan setting out a co-ordinated package of support.
This can include support offered by a range of partners, depending on needs.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’ve got a great team of advisers throughout the county with, between them, around 1,400 years of business experience at your disposal.”
They can help with grant applications and refer clients into initiatives run by the Growth Hub or others. Where relevant we work with other organisations to deliver co-ordinated packages of support.
Our Subsidy Scheme helps businesses to 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 can 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.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “We’re really 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.”
For more information on the Subsidy Scheme, click here.
We can also help businesses make grant applications to outside bodies.
Read here how Growth Hub adviser Alan Smithson helped Planet Knox secure a grant to enhance its manufacturing capacity.
- Supply Chain
Our 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.
Read here how we helped Growing Concerns win a contract with South Lakeland Council
SMEs get access to professional advisers, sources of funding, networking opportunities, training courses and workshops. Much of this is free of charge.
There is a business directory, interactive tools and an events diary.
Large procurers such as Innovia, BAE Systems, Pirelli, Booths, the Box Encapsulation Plant at Sellafield, Morgan Sindall, Eric Wright Group and Cumbria County Council 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.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “There is a lot of talk about supply chain opportunities but businesses often miss out because they’re not experienced at tendering successfully, so don’t know how best to respond to the questions and put themselves forward, or they don’t have the relevant systems and accreditations.
“This support helps overcome these issues through practical advice and support on bidding and support to implement systems and processes and gain accreditations.”
For more information on the Supply Chain Gateway, click here.
The Growth Hub is working with partners to help Cumbrian businesses innovate, develop new products and services then bring them to market.
Read here how a grant helped Barrnon adapt scallop fishing gear for nuclear decommissioning
For example, Lancaster University Management School is inviting applications for the second intake of its Innovation Development Programme, which equips businesses with the tools they need to innovate and grow.
The six-month programme starts on October 2nd. It is open to senior decision-makers from Cumbrian SMEs with ambitions to explore new markets and identify opportunities for product or service development.
Places are fully funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which makes them free to businesses that meet ERDF criteria.
We also work closely with Innovate UK, a government initiative to drive productivity and growth by supporting businesses to develop new technologies and ideas to make them a commercial success.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Working with organisations like these, offering specialist innovation support, is a key element of the Growth Hub’s offer.
“Lancaster University, for example, has a tremendous range of resources and facilities on offer, helping businesses innovate through food technology, engineering innovation, analysis and use of data, and more.
“And they can help you review the various opportunities for innovation throughout your business and decide which to exploit.”
The Growth Hub helps businesses looking to export for the first time or existing exporters looking to increase international sales.
Read here how a Cumbrian craft brewery is targeting markets in Europe, Japan and China
We can help businesses directly and through our links with the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Events 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 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.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “With Brexit fast approaching, export support has probably never been more important. So it’s well worth looking at the support on offer.”
For more information, click here.
- Online resources
Earlier this year we relaunched the Growth Hub website in an improved format. The portal has an impressive 137,000 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 is 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 available through webinars too, covering a wide variety of topics from Fit for Nuclear – on how businesses can enter the nuclear industry supply chain – through to winning public sector contracts, using Twitter and Facebook for business, and setting up a website from scratch using WordPress.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “With an ever-growing range of content providing information and inspiration, this is a tremendous resource at your fingertips – wherever and whenever you want to use it.”
To find out how the Growth Hub can help your business, call us now on 0844 257 84 50 or click here to visit the Growth Hub website.
Cumbria Business Growth Hub is a Cumbria Chamber of Commerce initiative.
It has been so successful that the Government adopted it as the model for business support across the country.
We couldn’t have achieved this success without our partners, from government departments to local authorities, the University of Cumbria, Cumbria LEP, Lancaster University, training providers such as Gen2 and SP Training, and FE colleges.
Currently, we have programmes with four of Cumbria’s six district councils – Allerdale, Carlisle, Eden and South Lakeland.
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 of 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.