�8.5m boost for low-carbon projects

AN �8.5million grants windfall for firms developing low-carbon projects in the East of England has been announced as business leaders from the region met to discuss support and guidance available to them through the recession.

AN �8.5million grants windfall for firms developing low-carbon projects in the East of England has been announced as business leaders from the region met to discuss support and guidance available to them through the recession.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has announced the package, which will go towards grants for research and development of hi-tech products and Proof of Concept Funds, which help businesses to test the market for new business ideas, following a major cash injection by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

EEDA's announcement was made at the first in a series of government Real Help for Business road-shows, led by EEDA's chief executive Deborah Cadman and Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England.

Businesses at the event, held at Cranfield University on Wednesday , were given the opportunity to raise issues with banks and Business Link advisers and look at what more needs to be done at a regional level to ensure companies are able to access the support they need.


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EEDA chief executive Deborah Cadman said: “There is no doubt that it remains a tough time for businesses and EEDA's number one priority is to make sure companies in this region are well prepared to weather the storms. But despite the downturn, there are still businesses across the East of England - the UK's 'ideas region' - developing new products and looking to conquer tomorrow's markets. It is ambition like this that can help drive the UK out of recession.”

“The importance and potential impact of our �8.5 million investment in innovative businesses should not be underestimated. We know, from recently commissioned reports, that typically every �1 that EEDA invests delivers a return of between �3.70 and �5.80 for the region.”

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Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England, said access to finance for working capital and investment could mean the difference between success and failure for businesses in the region.

“The government's package of measures, including the Working Capital Scheme, Enterprise Guarantee Scheme and Capital Enterprise scheme, are designed to give them just that and it was good to hear examples today of where these have made a real difference to businesses in our region,” she said.

“Those concerned about securing funding should get in touch with their local Business Link as soon as possible to find out more about the help available.”

Details of the government's Real Help for Business portfolio can be found on Business Link's website - www.businesslink.gov.uk/realhelp.

To find out more about EEDA's grants for innovative businesses, visit www.eeda.org.uk/financeforinnovation.

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