Four Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) from across the country have benefited from making a joint bid for Regional Growth Funding under a new finance model - Business Birmingham.
The LEPs include Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull and Liverpool City Region. The alliance successfully bid for a £25m Regional Growth Fund (RGF) grant, which will provide funding for suppliers in the advanced engineering supply chain.
This is the first time a group of LEPs have made a joint application for a RGF grant, which was coordinated by Birmingham City Council and an inward investment programme called Business Birmingham. Rather than focusing on regional investment, the funding model is sector-led.
Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, commented: “This renewable grant sets a precedent for a new type of finance, particularly for SMEs. At a time when many companies are struggling to secure funding through traditional routes, this kind of grant provides new opportunities for businesses development and economic growth, and a template that other sectors and LEPs can use.”
The grant will provide around 10% – 20% of the finance required by suppliers to prepare for new orders. This will reduce the level of risk for other lenders, making it more likely that the supplier will be able to access the remaining funding required.
Andy Street, chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, commented: “By lowering the risk of investing in local supply chains, this funding will help to boost foreign direct investment into the LEP regions. It will create opportunities in a wide range of sectors, from aerospace and automotive to manufacturing and low-carbon R&D, further cementing the UK’s position as the leading European destination for inward investment.”
The funding will ensure that British advanced engineering SMEs remain globally competitive and can capitalise on the growth of other companies.
Denys Shortt, chair of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, commented: “This has been designed to boost cross-border economic growth for companies, particularly in the automotive and aerospace industries, with the specific aim of boosting economic growth.”
“Our High Value Manufacturing Focus Group has worked very hard on this bid – along with partners – so this news is very welcome,” he said.