Thursday, February 12, 2015

News: SCR's Growth Hub set for April launch

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A Growth Hub providing a clear model for coordinating and simplifying business support so that it joins up national, local, public and private business provisions across the Sheffield city region is set for a "soft launch" in April.

Announced in more detail as part of the city region's devolution deal, "the most ambitious, business-led Growth Hub in the country" is seen as central to the business-facing elements of the Local Enteprise Partnership's (LEP's) Strategic Economic Plan, which set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield City Region by 2023.

£4.5m of existing Local Growth Fund allocation will be used to set up the hub which is then expected to be backed by £83.5m of European funding. £500,000 has been secured to pilot the project in the next financial year with initial work undertaken to assess what support is already available.

Designed by business leaders for business leaders, the Growth Hub aims to remove internal boundaries within the city region, so that every growing business gets the support it needs to thrive.

Growth Accelerator, the Manufacturing Advisory Service and other national services will be aligned with local business support through the growth hub, so that businesses get a joined up service which meets their needs. With one website and one phone number, this will include co-location, referrals, marketing, diagnostics, evaluation, customer acquisition and the simplification of local and national business support.

The Growth Hub is set to be complimentary to local authority and other provision. Local authorities with resources may wish to undertake a "key account management" function and deliver local priorities beyond that of the Hub, as Rotherham Council currently does successfully. By delivering additional resources into the SCR, the LEP believes that the Growth Hub offers the opportunity for local authorities to do so but as other local authorities will not be in a position to invest in this way, the Hub will be designed to also work as a stand-alone product.

Paul Houghton, senior partner at Grant Thornton and member of the LEP Board, said at the recent LEP Business Conference: "The great thing about the LEP is the public and private sectors working together. Added to business support from local authorities and the public sector is support from the private sector.

"We don't want to displace anything, just bring together local, regional and national support. Having a central hub is about access to that support, it's about coordination and pointing businesses in the right direction.

"The pilot is just the beginning. We want the hub to provide stability and for business support to become fully devolved. We are also working hard to improve access to finance."

The long term aim is for the Growth Hub to have a "core" of first line support and a pool of business advisors, allocated to a "patch" but managed centrally. The actual delivery of services to businesses is still set to be carried out by the different agencies focusing on aspects such as access to finance, export, innovation, and skills - the "spokes" to the Growth Hub model - but all brought together as one central "Growth Deal" for the individual businesses.

The Growth Hub is also set to commission products that are accessible to any business regardless of location, ending the postcode lottery of support in the city region.

For Rotherham and Sheffield the pilot project is set to include two extra business advisors, the co-location of two telephone advisors as part of "gateway" function and a physical presence in Creative Sheffield's offices at Broad Street West, subject to agreement.

£2m of LEP funding is set to be used to fund the small "core" of the Growth Hub up to 2020/21 and £2m is set to be made available to the "spokes" of the Growth Hub to fund activity.

Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP

2 comments:

Paul Hesp June 15, 2015 at 9:59 AM  

Well it's now June, but has anyone seen any sight of this planned Growth Hub in the last 3 months? Seems to me other Regions have got their act together. But what's happening in Sheffield City Region? Also, has there been a problem with the Regional Growth Fund? Neighbouring regions are offering business grants for growth, but seems not to be available in Sheffield.

Tom,  June 15, 2015 at 10:45 AM  

Latest update is that recruitment at the Growth Hub began in May - http://www.rothbiz.co.uk/2015/05/news-5222-recruitment-for-growth-hub.html

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