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Strengthen business support and access to finance

With the highest number of business start-ups per annum outside London and a start-up rate per head of population being above the core city LEP average, Greater Birmingham is experiencing a time of significant and positive change.

The key challenge we face through this change is to increase initial survival rates and then sustained growth amongst a higher proportion of businesses.This focus lies at the heart of our Business Support and Access to Finance offering for the region.

Growth Hub

The Growth Hub is accelerating progress as the single point of contact for business advice, funding and support services across Greater Birmingham.

In August 2017, we received 270 direct enquires into the Growth Hub, a rise of over 60% over the past 6 months.

Our evolution towards a more tailored account management level of support focused on ‘scale up’ potential businesses is being driven by a number of new and exciting initiatives, including:

  • Development of a new sector specialist model consisting of a network of Growth Hub specialists, who will provide both a 121 and group account management level of support for businesses, utilising the established support activities and programmes of our core and strategic partners.
  • Innovative use of our Growth Hub Development Fund to invest in cross sector activities within key areas of specialism such as Innovation, Creative & Digital and Advanced Manufacturing.
  • Enhanced cross-working across the Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Coventry & Warwickshire and Black Country LEPs Growth Hubs sharing best practice across the region to align our offers, for the benefit of all and developing joint initiatives i.e. supporting the HS2 Supply Chain via the HVM City portal.

For more information on the GBSLEP Growth Hub, click here

Access to Finance

Access to Finance is a key element of driving the growth of businesses across the region.

But the provision of the right type of finance for the right reason is even more important. That is why we have invested in the development of a brand new Access to Finance portal including a specialist Access to Finance advice service. This provides an interactive and dynamic way for businesses to source the type and level of finance required to meet their needs.

The launch of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) is an additional welcome boost to the local economy and we are proud to be a key partner. By offering over £250m of investment to boost small and medium business (SME) growth in the Midlands, the MEIF will transform the finance landscape for smaller businesses and help to realise the region’s potential to achieve economic growth through enterprise.

For more information on the MEIF, visit www.meif.co.uk

Scale Up

The identification and support for businesses within our Growth Hub Scale Up plan, is a key driver for success and one that will improve the job opportunity and productivity of the region.

We are passionate about how our plan will not only provide the direct support that high growth business need, but will also integrate support for businesses from our diverse communities and the social enterprise sector.

We have already begun the first phase of planning for our Growth Hub Scale Up offer for businesses, working in conjunction with BEIS, the national Enterprise Research Centre, Professor Mark Hart and a range of other key partners.

Skills

As the GBSLEP, we strive to ensure that businesses can access the skills they need to grow.

But we are also passionate about ensuring that local people feel inspired and skilled, to fulfil the work opportunities that will come from our current renaissance.

We aim to achieve this by working with others to improve how we attract and develop talent, retain skilled workers, increase the level of inclusion needed to drive regional and community cohesion, and provide clear career progression, tailored to both the needs of businesses and the individuals themselves.

With a number of opportunities on our doorstep, such as HS2 as a part of our skills and growing business agenda, we have launched a series of ESIF calls designed to encourage external partners to work with us to develop a Skills Hub extension programme to our Growth Hub.

For more information or to apply for the ESIF Skills Hub calls, click here.

Intellectual Property

The UK Intellectual Property Office and GBS LEP are jointly funding a pilot to develop IP policies that strengthen the region’s innovation ecosystem pilot activity including:

  • exploring how to provide financial support for SMEs to have greater confidence with their IP assets to enable demand-led innovation
  • working with partners to raise the region’s understanding of IP assets to support access to finance and export
  • building IP capability within the West Midland Growth Hubs, by:
    • training business advisors through workshops and the IPO Master Class.
    • developing an online toolkit for the Growth Hub website to ‘identify all your business assets.
    • producing a new IP Assist model for one-to-one support.
    • increasing IP clinics and advice available to businesses.
    • developing interaction between the private sector, public sector and research.
    • institutions to ensure our region’s shared capability reach businesses effectively.

For businesses who wish to realise the value of their IP, the UK IPO have produced an IP Finance Toolkit to help businesses to present the security and financial worth of their IP when seeking finance and help banks recognise the value of IP in a business.

To download the IP Finance Toolkit, click here.

Inclusive Growth

Diversity is one of our region’s greatest strengths and an important element of our demographic that uniquely positions our region to drive inclusive growth and innovation.

We are committed to ensuring that inclusion lies at the heart of everything that we do, and we understand the importance of engaging and learning both from and with diverse communities,

In working with CRÈME, the Centre for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at the University Of Birmingham, we have invested in a new Inclusive Growth pilot programme supporting the development of over 50 businesses from a range of diverse wards across Birmingham, including the recruitment of a specialist growth advisor from the local community.

We are also exploring closer working links with the social enterprise sector with key partners, to increase social value across the region.

SME Internationalisation

Exporting is an essential role in productivity and firm growth, with up to 12% of West Midlands SME having the characteristics to become global businesses, through exporting.

Our partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) is enabling us to extend export support for businesses and we look forward to developing our plans further.

The team of experienced International Trade Advisers provide local businesses, of any size or export experience, with FREE of charge advice and access to a range of Government backed services, alongside a range of engagement and information events.

To learn more about how we work with the DIT to support businesses, click here.