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Pioneering growth hub to launch across Gloucestershire

PUBLISHED: 13:44 22 January 2014 | UPDATED: 13:44 22 January 2014

Laura Crabb, David Owen, Neill Ricketts, Donna Renney, Diane Savory, Stephen Marston, Ruth Dooley & Adam Starkey

Laura Crabb, David Owen, Neill Ricketts, Donna Renney, Diane Savory, Stephen Marston, Ruth Dooley & Adam Starkey

Clint Randall - pixel pr phototography

An injection of £2.7 million from the Higher Education Funding for England (HEFCE), has signalled the go-ahead for a new Gloucestershire ‘Growth Hub’, a one-stop-shop for business advice and help.

This is a pioneering partnership between GFirst LEP (the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire) and the University of Gloucestershire. The Hub will provide a range of business services to help companies with high growth potential, increase exports and fast-track entrepreneurial start-ups.

Establishing a Growth Hub is the University and LEP’s response to one of the loudest complaints from Gloucestershire businesses over the years, especially SMEs : that business services are often fragmented and difficult to access. While regional services such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service, or Growth Accelerator are highly valued by many who find them, discovering the expertise then accessing it at the right level has always been difficult.

The hub will launch in Autumn 2014, and plans include the creation of resource centres across the county and the development of an online business portal to offer a range of business services, including one-to-one consultations, business research and consultancy and skills placement programmes including work experience and apprenticeships. The project was developed following consultation with the Gloucestershire business community and the University successfully applied for support from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund, which supports Universities to undertake strategic innovation.

David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst, said: “We have more people employed in export intensive industries than any other LEP area, more people employed in media and high tech manufacturing. We have one of the strongest survival rates for start up businesses anywhere in the country and our growth over the last decade has been slower than that of the UK average so there is a demand in Gloucestershire’s economy to enable high growth businesses to do even better.”

Stephen Marston, Vice Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, said: “The University has a commitment to support economic growth and business success. Over the past two years we have built a strong partnership with the Gloucestershire LEP to help deliver that goal. The growth we want in this country, and this county, is not low-skill, low-wage – others can undercut us on that basis. It’s high value adding and high knowledge intensive because that helps the economy.”

Diane Savory, Chair, GFirst LEP, added: “Gloucestershire boasts many exceptional, high-performance companies and the vision of the Growth Hub will be to help these firms and new start-ups to become even more competitive on the world stage.

“We are delighted that the hub has support from local employers including Versarien, SuperGroup, Barclays Bank, Cheltenham Festivals, Green Gourmet, Severn Controls, Cloud 20 20, Gloucestershire Airport, Roberts Limbrick, Hazlewoods and Moog. It is a flagship project for our strategic economic plan.”

Laura Crabb, head of business development at the University of Gloucestershire added: “While we are building our business support and making it available either physically or virtually, we are also encouraging our academics and students out into business so it becomes a cyclical activity which informs teaching and improves our programmes.”

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