East Anglia: Success for Regional Growth Fund bids

THE Government today backed plans to deliver �15million of investment to small businesses in Suffolk and Norfolk, with a leading business in Essex also in line for funding.

Ministers announced that the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been successful with a bid for �3m of state funding.

The LEP will use the money, from round three of the Regional Growth Fund, to give grants of between �20,000 and �100,000 to small and medium sized businesses in Norwich, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

The grants are expected to enable the recipients to lever in four times more investment from other sources such as banks or venture capitalists, bringing the total amount of investment to �15m.

Business minister Michael Fallon said a major factor in the success of New Anglia’s bid was that the money would go to smaller firms.

“Many of the Regional Growth Fund grants go to large companies that have particular projects and it’s been difficult for small and medium sized enterprises to access the money,” he added.

New Anglia will target the grants at the advanced manufacturing, energy, life sciences, creative digital and ICT sectors. The scheme is expected to help between 30 and 120 firms, helping to create 500 jobs.

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Media group Archant, which includes the EADT, will provide �500,000 worth of advertising and marketing to promote the scheme.

New Anglia chairman Andy Wood said: “We are delighted that the New Anglia LEP has been successful in securing this funding from the Government in what was a very tough national competition.

“We are starting to show that we can deliver as an LEP and secure funding for our area. We are confident our fund will make a real difference and help businesses grow and create more jobs.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The awarding of �3m is great news for Suffolk and Norfolk and great news for the businesses that can benefit from the Regional Growth Fund. This money will mean that hard working firms in key business areas can invest and see a real difference

“This is a further example of how both counties working together can really punch above their weight,” he added. “For far too long we have missed out on funding such as this to other areas of the UK.

“The hard work of the New Anglia LEP with its delivery partners such as Suffolk Chamber of Commerce now means that new jobs will be created and the economy in Suffolk and Norfolk will get the injection it needs.

“We do need to make sure that this new money is available as soon as possible as small and medium sized firms need the investment and need it now.”

Four other schemes in London and the East of England will share in a further �37million of Regional Growth Fund money announced today.

Success bidders include Chelmsford-based e2v technologies, for investment in capital equipment required to fulfil an imaging equipment contract, and The Welding Institute at Great Abington, near Cambridge, for building a fitting out a new facility for postgraduate research into structural integrity.

The recipients also include the Ford Motor Company’s Dagenham plant and Peterborough-based Perkins Engines.

Nationally, around 130 projects will benefit from a total of �1bn released by the Government today from the Regional Growth Fund, which is expected to attract �6bn of private sector investment.

Almost a quarter of a million jobs will be created or safeguarded under the latest spending round of the fund aimed at boosting growth in England, ministers said.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the projects were selected from more than 400 applications and would safeguard or create 240,000 jobs, in addition to 300,000 from two previous rounds of the fund. Around �700m will go to private firms and a further �358m to local authorities and enterprise partnerships.

Mr Clegg said: “This �1bn boost for growth in towns and cities across England is creating jobs that will last in the parts of the country that need it most.

“In tough economic times the Regional Growth Fund is good value for taxpayers’ money. This �1bn round of the fund is pulling in �6bn of private sector investment.”

He added: “The Regional Growth Fund is working, on track and supporting businesses to create jobs and grow the economy.”

However, Labour’s regional growth spokesman, Gordon Marsden, said: “We urgently need a plan for growth but instead we have the Regional Growth Fund which has created far more losers than winners, with over two-thirds of firms applying across the country missing out.

“Major issues remain with the delays and confusion which have beset what is supposed to be the Government’s flagship industrial policy.

“There are winning bidders from the RGF’s previous rounds who have been waiting more than a year and a half to receive their money, and ministers have admitted that they could now be waiting until next year and beyond. If these chronic delays hit the third round of the fund, the winners of which were announced today, they may not receive their money until 2015.”