East Anglia: SMEs urged to apply for grants under New Anglia LEP’s Growing Business Fund

Steve Pearce, founder and chief executive of Omega Ingredients.

Steve Pearce, founder and chief executive of Omega Ingredients. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk-based supplier of flavour and fragrance ingredients to the food, drink and cosmetics sectors has created five new jobs and launched in the lucrative Unite States market with the help of a grant from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Omega Ingredients, from Great Blakenham, near Ipswich, has received £30,000 from the LEP’s £12million Growing Business Fund (GBF), established to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) press ahead with growth projects facing a funding shortfall.

The GBF was set up by New Anglia with cash secured from the Government’s £3.2billion Regional Growth Fund and Omega is one of 13 firms in Suffolk and Norfolk to have received a grant so far.

However, with a deadline of March 2015 for all the money to be spent, the LEP is urging more SMEs to apply for a share of the fund.

Steve Pearce, founder and chief executive of Omega Ingredients, said: “We secured £30k from the fund and this has enabled us to purchase a machine that separates flavours and mixtures and identifies components, plus a spray drier that takes a liquid flavour and turns it into a powder.

“We have also used the funding for marketing for our USA launch. This is a new and very competitive market for us, so it requires a great deal of investment to get it off the ground and establish us there.”

And he added: “As part of the funding we had to create some new positions within the business and we wanted to appoint some top professionals to drive Omega forward. We have taken on a senior flavourist, a sales manager, a technical manager, sales assistant and warehouse trainee.

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“The Growing Business Fund has really enabled us to expand, tackle new markets and boost our in-house expertise, so we are delighted that New Anglia has been able to help us in this way.”

The GBF offers grants of between £25,000 and £500,000 towards up to 20% of the cost of investment projects, and is aimed primarily at businesses within the energy, advanced manufacturing, health/life sciences and biotechnology, ICT and digital creative sectors.

Chris Dashper, programme manager for the fund, said: “We are looking for businesses to apply now, because the money must be spent by March 2015, so there is a relatively short window of opportunity to take advantage of the fund. There are a number of criteria: it is not for start-ups, businesses must create at least one job for every £10,000 of funding provided and they must secure 80% match funding.”

Nataliya Klymko, who has been appointed by New Anglia as co-ordinator for the GBF, added: “The Growing Business Fund represents an incredible opportunity for SMEs to grow and develop in the current climate, where finance from other sources is hard to find.”