Thursday, April 13, 2017

News: More support for innovative startups

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The UK may be leaving the European Union but a call has be made to use European funding to support enterprise in the Sheffield city region (SCR).

Some £2m has been allocated to the SCR to boost the economy through the use of business incubation.

New projects will target high growth, scalable early stage businesses, or ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to start new enterprises. They are set to involve "a competitive short-term programme of bespoke business support to a small cohort of entrepreneurs or early stage businesses culminating in an investor pitch event."

The projects are expected to run for three years and link in to the existing SCR Growth Hub, the model that coordinates and simplifies business support so that it joins up national, local, public and private business provisions across the city region.

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The call follows a recent pilot enterprise initiative that exceeded expectations. The Y-Accelerator programme was developed by RiDO, the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council that provides business support and incubation space. The UKSE Y-Accelerator, launched by Y-Accelerator and UK Steel Enterprise and funded by the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, included a 12-week development initiative from RiDO and a final pitch event where four of the eight companies taking part were offered finance.

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 SCR by 2023.

The SCR Independent Economic Review has highlighted an enterprise deficit within the city region. This is evidenced, not only by low business density, but the low propensity of the local population to start businesses. Analysis of business startup rates shows that although the percentage of startups, as a proportion of the total business base is similar to the national average, when business startups are compared per 10,000 population there is a clear startup deficit which has widened in recent years (from 78% of the national average in 2004 to 65% in 2011).

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed last year that the Government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after the UK has left the EU (possibly in 2019).

Over €200m in EU funding was expected to be used to support businesses, inward investment, infrastructure, innovation and social inclusion in the Sheffield city region (SCR) until 2020.

Funding for projects will be honoured by the Government, if they meet good value for money and are in line with domestic strategic priorities. Each Government department will take responsibility for the allocation of money to projects in line with these conditions and the wider rules on public spending.

SCR Growth Hub website

Images: Y-Accelerator


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