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Suffolk: New Anglia Growth Hub advisers report positive response from businesses

PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 August 2014 | UPDATED: 15:50 25 August 2014

The New Anglia Growth Hub, launched in June this year to provide free support to growing businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk, has already engaged with nearly 500 firms or potential start-ups.

The hub has been created by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with the help of money from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and aims to provide businesses in the two counties with a “no wrong door” route for accessing local and national business support.

It offers a first point of contact for anyone seeking business support and assistance, so providing easier access to the full range of local and national business support schemes and helping to ensure that entrepreneurs in Suffolk and Norfolk are able to make the most of the support available.

The hub is being managed by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce on behalf on the LEP, with other elements to be delivered by organisations including Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, enterprise agencies NWES and MENTA, Finance East, the University of East Anglia, University Campus Suffolk and Norwich University for the Arts.

The growth hub is also being supported by other partners, including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors, the Eastern Enterprise Hub and local authorities within the two counties.

Among the hub’s Suffolk-based business growth advisers are Richard Glinn, William Millar and Morgan Potter, and they report a highly positive response from business owners, as well as being impressed themselves by the diversity of businesses in the county.

Richard Glinn, adviser for west Suffolk, said: “If part of my remit was to ‘sample the goods’ I would now have a tattoo, ridden a racehorse and become a computer coder, engineer and flower arranger.

“It is fascinating to learn what is being created and sold behind innocuous doors in Suffolk’s industrial estates and offices. It is also very satisfying to point these companies to grants such as the New Anglia LEP’s Growing Business Fund and Small Grant Scheme as well as Grants4Growth and the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

“However, there are a lot more than grants available; there is a variety of vital support for your growing business. You can ask a Growth Hub adviser to visit your business, listen to your plans, investigate possibilities on your behalf, make suggestions and ensure things happen.“

Mr Millar, south Suffolk and innovation adviser, said: “Each day brings yet another surprise about the diversity of businesses in Suffolk.

“Over the past few weeks, I have met business owners and directors who are passionate about success and growing their businesses. These have ranged from advanced manufacturing companies with a long history of export success, innovative software engineering companies and food companies who are bringing new products into the market place.

“The service sector is alive and kicking and I have helped training companies and specialist consultants, as well as people in the food and drink and retail sectors.

“The help provided has ranged tremendously, from access to funding through the Low Carbon KEEP programme, Grants4Growth and the Growing Business Fund. Reaction has been very positive because people appreciate that you come to them, when it suits them, with the intention of helping them realise their growth ambitions.”

Dr Potter, east Suffolk and innovation adviser, added: “My previous experience has taught me that demand is high for clear, easy-to-access business support to help de-mystify the route to grants and specialist support.

“The New Anglia Growth Hub exists to do just that. I have been working with many business types including provision of bakery equipment, automation of financial processes, agricultural equipment development, recruitment of apprentices, plastic colorant development and many more.

“There is a huge scope to help business people out there, from providing business mentors for new businesses to providing substantial grants to help get projects off the ground. I have found that people truly value a discussion about their business, teasing out new opportunities for growth and routes to support this.

“Another crucial area where help is now available is innovation, a term often loosely used but seldom understood. Innovation is the development of an idea, realisation of an invention and, most importantly, the final exploitation to achieve success. Support is now available for this process and we can help direct and leverage this.”

One of the business owners to have engaged with the Growth Hub already is Jemma Fifield, owner of the MoonMunkie Art and Craft Studio in Bury St Edmunds. Following a recent meeting with Mr Glinn, she said: “It is so great to have someone come in and show me exactly what help is out there.”

The expertise of the business growth advisers is available free of charge via the New Anglia Growth Hub. If you need grant funding for a project or are looking to grow your business, you can ask for an appointment to discuss your growth plans by calling 0300 333 6536 or by emailing growthhub@newanglia.co.uk .

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