Largest ever small business support programme launched at LEP Annual Conference

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Solent LEP conference 2017

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced a £5m package of funding opportunities through the Solent Growth Fund to help small and medium (SME) sized businesses grow through developing new processes, products, services and markets.

The Solent Growth Fund is providing two bespoke funding streams: a £3.2m Capital Investment Fund and £1.8m Small Business Programme, which has been supported with a £1m investment from the European Regional Development Fund.

The Small Business Programme will provide either revenue or capital based funding of £10,000 to £75,000 to individual SMEs, and the Capital Investment Fund will support SMEs with projects requiring a higher level of capital investment, up to a total of £500,000 per project.

A range of funding options are available, including grants, loans, forward funding and equity investments and, alongside support for growth companies, funding is also available to back new businesses to start-up and provide support to SMEs experiencing challenging trading conditions.

250 delegates attended the LEPs Annual Conference to hear details of the new funding opportunities directly, and to begin the conversation on a new Strategic Economic Plan for the area in the coming year.

Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP Chairman, said:

“We have today published our Productivity and Growth Strategy Update, setting out some of our early investment priorities. However, this is only the start of our work with Solent businesses to develop our response to the Governments Industrial Strategy Green Paper against a context of significant change, including the emerging new relationship with Europe and revised local vision for our area and economy. 2017 looks set to be a critical year for the LEP and it was fantastic to see so many local stakeholders join our annual conference to help begin this work. I am looking forward to discussing the key opportunities and challenges for Solent Businesses in greater detail across a series of roundtable sessions in the coming months and would encourage all Solent businesses to get involved in this work to help us build a better future.”

Brian Johnson, Solent LEP Board Director and Small Business Ambassador, said:

“SME businesses are absolutely critical to the fortunes of the Solent economy as a whole. Supporting new SMEs to begin trading and helping our established, innovative, small business community to grow quickly is a key priority for the Solent LEP in 2017 and I am delighted to be able to launch our largest and most varied provision of SME funding support to date. Over the last 5 years, the LEP has provided funding to more than 170 SMEs and I am confident that we can build on this success by supporting at least 80 more businesses with the new £5m programme.”

The first deadline for SME funding applications is 3rd March 2017.