I recently attended the celebration / launch of the second Let’s Grow Fund in Durham.
This is a £30 million grant for the North East which is run by The Journal and Evening Gazette and for which details may be found on www.be-group.co.uk.
The grant fund will be run on very similar lines to the first one:
- A quarterly competition
- 1 August 2014: first date for Expressions of interest
- 29 August 2014: first date for the full applications
- Future dates will be found on the BE Group website
As a trained statistician myself, I find the facts surrounding the first fund make for interesting reading:
- There were 270 Expressions of interest, 186 of which were considered and 102 awards were made…so two thirds were good enough to be considered and 54% of those were awarded grants.
- Surprisingly there were very few grants awarded in Northumberland (5%) whilst Teesside arguably got a little less than its fair share (22%).
- £190m of private sector support was unlocked by the £30m of grants i.e. the grant typically represented 14% of overall investment.
- 3,700 jobs were created or safeguarded at an average salary of £29,000, which equates to a grant per job of £8,100 and is better value for money than the £10,000 expected originally.
Going forward the best tips from yesterday’s event for anyone considering future applications was:
- Get advice from your accountants and consult with BE Group throughout the process to increase your chance of your bid being acceptable.
- Make sure you meet State Aid requirements (check out www.ukassistedareasmap.com) for guidance, or speak to an adviser.
- Make sure you create or safeguard sustainable jobs without causing loss of jobs elsewhere in the UK.
- Large companies can only apply for new activities which is a change to the previous rules.
- Have a watertight argument to support the need for grant assistance.
- The icing on the cake for the judging committee would be if the grant supported innovation, increased competitiveness or was seen to create apprenticeships.
Sadly the amount available to Teesside SMEs for each grant could be 5% lower than that available in the previous fund due to changes in State Aid regulations, however there is also another option available through Tees Valley Unlimited’s Compass Fund for those businesses.
Let’s Grow is a great source of grant funding for the North East but there are many others available, some of which may fit better. If you have any queries or would like to discuss a grant application or the funding required to go alongside your investment plans then please feel free to contact me.
Author: Steve Plaskitt, Corporate Finance Partner
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