Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News: LEP outlines £17m EU funding call

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The first wave of new European funded projects in the Sheffield City Region will focus on business support, innovation and supporting inward investment through development on the Enterprise Zone.

Structural funding from the EU is likely to be integral to meeting the targets in the Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP's) Growth Plan, which has set an ambitious target of creating 70,000 new jobs in the Sheffield city region (SCR) by 2023. The city region can expect £180m for 2014 to 2020 which brings together funding pots such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

In total six calls have already been submitted to the Government via the Sheffield City Region LEP. These relate to "New Business" (£1m), "International Trade" (£1m), "Manufacturing Advice" (£0.25m), "High Growth Support" (£0.25m), "Development in the Enterprise Zones (Inward Investment)" (£3.5m) and "Innovation Capital" (£11.2m).

Using EU funding, a Growth Hub is being created to provide 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.

Another call is for bringing forward land and premises for employment sites, specifically targeting inward investment from foreign firms wanting ready built premises. Innovation based capital projects are set to be supported to the tune of £11m and could include specialist infrastructure facilities, innovation and incubation space and research laboratories.

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: "The Sheffield City Region's programme for EU funding has been designed by the LEP and local partners to ensure that our economy gets the biggest boost possible from this investment.

"The Sheffield City Region programme closely aligns to our Growth Plan, which sets out our vision to transform our economic future. At the heart of our vision is the creation of 70,000 new private sector jobs and 6,000 new businesses over the next decade. Local leaders are keen to make sure that as many local organisations and partners as possible are aware of these funding opportunities so we can generate as many high quality bids as possible from our City Region."

The LEP will only have an "advisory role" over how the European funding is spent. The final decisions will be made in Whitehall as the Government considers the role of Intermediary Body as being too risky in the context of managing European funds and the European Commission has not accepted that LEPs are an appropriate body to take decisions.

In a report to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, Ben Morley, ‎strategic development and funding manager at Sheffield Council, said on behalf of Sheffield City Region Executive: "Whilst the process for completion and submission to Calls to DCLG has been far from perfect, particularly in relation to timescales and lack of clarity for the "BIS Products" there has been an ability to provide a local context and local requirements for applicants to submit proposals against. If nothing else this represents a significant step forward from the current programme."

The next round of calls is expected to be published in June / July.

EU Funding website
Sheffield City Region LEP website

Images: European Commission

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