Too many West Midlands firms are missing out on opportunities to help fund their business growth plans, according to Johnathan Dudley, Midlands managing partner at national audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clark Whitehill.
He said businesses, especially SMEs, need to take advantage of the many sources of financial support and grant availability open to them if they want to succeed and see business growth.
Dudley, also national head of manufacturing, noted: “SMEs tend to cite lack of finance as the major obstacle to business growth but there are an increasing number of schemes on offer, many with backing from the public sector, which are worth checking out.
“Small and medium sized firms often fail to consider alternative finance routes because of time pressures and fears over mountains of red tape.
“But it is well worth persevering especially as financial organisations are now much more conscious of the need to cut through such obstacles” therefore promoting business growth.
He pointed out it was now easier to access the information, highlighting how entrepreneurs need only go to the websites of the Black Country and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEPs to find details.
Examples of schemes worth exploring included:
- Regional Growth Fund – a £2.6bn fund which operates across England and is designed to support projects and programmes that lever private sector investment to deliver sustainable employment and economic growth.
- The Government recently announced an £82.5m student-loan style initiative for young entrepreneurs planning to start a new business. It will enable young people who choose not to go to university to access low interest loans to help them launch a company.
- Black Country Growing Priority Sectors is a competition fund providing grants of £50,000 to £1m to supplement companies’ own investment, where jobs are being created.
- Green Shoots Fund aims to help SMEs in the Black Country to create new jobs and promote growth. Businesses will be able to supplement their own investment by applying for an award ranging from £10,000 to £50,000 to support capital investment projects.
- Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative – available to companies in the aerospace and automotive sectors across the Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham & Solihull.
- The Green Bridge Supply Chain Programme is a competition funded with £20m from the Regional Growth Fund. Existing SME supply chain companies are invited to apply for funding to develop, grow and diversify their businesses within the green sector across the West Midlands.
- Growing Places is a sustainable fund which allows organisations to apply for funding to invest in capital projects, including land, property and infrastructure, which unlock economic growth and create jobs.
- Business Development Programme is aimed at the GBSLEP area offering £10,000 to £15,000 to cover relocation to new premises, difference in rent and rates associated with moving to new premises, business stationery as part of relocation, expansion of existing premises, installation (heating, lighting and cabling), signage, marketing and branding.
- Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board, fund, support and connect innovative firms looking to take a new idea to market.
- The European Investment Bank offers a range of R&D funding opportunities.