In Business growth and finance, Funding, Innovation, News

The North East’s leading business organisations are coming together to develop an innovative new way to help companies access finance and grow their operations.

The team that delivers the region’s annual innovation conference, Venturefest North East, is working with the North East LEP and North East Finance to design a new programme of investment support that culminates in a major annual event.

Details of the programme are currently being finalised and will be announced in April when tickets will also be released for the inaugural event on 21 June 2016 at Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham.

The development comes in the wake of the abolishment of the Government’s Business Growth Service, which ended its national business support programme following the Spending Review in 2015.

The programme has been developed with business input from the start. Business networks including the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Entrepreneurs’ Forum are involved to ensure the creation of a solution suited to the needs of the region’s businesses.

Simon Hanson, North East Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Without access to funding our members and smaller businesses cannot achieve their potential to grow their businesses, create new jobs and new wealth for the region.

“The development of this programme is a response to this need and will simplify the investment process for the huge number of business that have ambitions to develop.”

Support provided by the initiative will be dedicated to making it easier for companies of all sizes and sectors to secure the funding they need to develop ideas, innovate and grow. Businesses will receive expert advice to make their propositions as attractive as possible to investors and will gain access to a wide range of funding sources.

Hans Möller, Innovation Director at the North East LEP, said: “The development of this new programme represents a positive, collaborative move by the region to solve an issue shared by the whole business community.

“It demonstrates how the North East is leading the way in shaping its future by designing a solution to the challenges faced. This will really help widen access to funding as well as help SMEs to develop and grow.”

Other partners involved in the development of the initiative’s activity include: Transmit Enterprise, Blu Sky Tax Ltd chartered accountants, Agora Bay Ltd growth finance consultants and NatWest which has partnered with Entrepreneurial Spark to launch business accelerator hubs across the UK including one due to open in Newcastle this August.

North East businesses can register an interest in finding out more about the programme as it develops by emailing [email protected]

This initiative is part of a wider programme being developed with around 50 partner organisations to support innovation in the North East. Led by the Venturefest North East team, the programme is supported by Innovate UK and the North East LEP and North East BIC, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

CASE STUDY OF A BUSINESS WELCOMING THE PROGRAMME
NECC member Amber North East has grown rapidly since the launch of its healthcare workforce solution business in Durham in January 2015, with 100 staff already on its books.

Operations Director Kelly Bentham welcomed the news of the investment programme saying: “The challenge of finding finance for your business can be a show stopping issue no matter what size your business is.

“If you don’t understand what is available to you when you’re starting out you will struggle to get out of the starting blocks, while growing businesses don’t have the time to consider all of their options so can find themselves stung by high repayments.

“Cash is king when it comes to the growth of all businesses and this programme will make it simpler for companies to get access to the money they need to achieve their ambitions.”

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Tony Ikwue, Director of Enterprise and Innovation, University of Sunderland