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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter Bulletin no: 26
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Worcestershire LEP Newsletter

Bulletin no: 26

INTRODUCTION from the LEP Chair,
Peter Pawsey

As I write this introduction it seems that for once Britain is basking in a glow of wellbeing following the British and Irish Lions’ series win in Australia and Andy Murray’s fantastic achievement at Wimbledon, both delivered whilst we enjoy a period of unfamiliar temperatures and sunshine.  It is of course great to have such good news for once but we know that some things are not here to last, though perhaps there really is the beginning of some green shoots in the economy which can be fostered to grow into something more permanent and rewarding.  Certainly that message is beginning to come through from more than the odd isolated business across our county.
 
Several companies have reported that they are seeking to recruit, but conversely they are often struggling to find potential staff with the right skills or aptitude.  That is why much effort is being expended by the LEP’s Employment & Skills Group, led by Carl Arntzen, Managing Director of Worcester Bosch, to build stronger linkages between schools, colleges and business workplaces.  A very exciting programme is forming which I hope to be able to tell you more of in the next Bulletin, but it will be good news for our young people for sure.
 
Meanwhile, following the Chancellor’s Spending Review, and Danny Alexander’s follow up announcements on capital spending plans, the LEP Executive, with help from our many partners and from specialist advisors, is now absolutely focused on drawing up a Worcestershire Growth Plan.  This will be developed in liaison with the Departments for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) and Communities & Local Government (CLG) as being the essential tool in our bid for a worthwhile share of the Growth Fund that will be awarded to LEPs for the period 2014 to 2020.  This is also essential in order to secure the notional share announced below from the EU Growth Programme.
 
So this is a vital period in the development of LEPs and in our longer term role in the economic development of this county in particular.  We have many and widespread assets that we already enjoy here, but unless we respond positively and with ambition and good ideas, we will quickly fall behind our neighbours and others who are equally determined to prosper and grow.  We must move forward and we need the business voices across Worcestershire to echo that need.  Its good here now – but it could be so much better!

Major investment funds coming to Worcestershire


Over the past month, we have been encouraged by news from several Government departments announcing forthcoming investment funds for our region.

We heard early last month that the Department for Transport had awarded £4.9 million from its ‘Pinch Point’ fund to support the second phase of the Hoobrook Link Road development in Kidderminster.  This money will be used towards the completion of a vital link road, connecting the busy Stourport Road with the Worcester Road, improving access to the town and therefore alleviating serious traffic congestion particularly at peak times.  It will also release further large areas of land for housing and employment development. 

We had confirmation in the Government’s Spending Review of a £2 billion growth fund to be awarded to England’s 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships.  Although this is a one year deal only, the accompanying commitment to a further five years’ support  is a clear indication that LEPs are set to sit centre stage in future growth policy.  Indeed, further information last week has clarified that in addition to the initial £2bn in year 1, we are in effect now charged with making our case for a further minimum of £1bn for each of the following 5 years as the major projects part of the Department for Transport, Highways Agency funding, so it is actually an initial £7bn bid that we will be working towards.  We were, however, disappointed that the Government had failed to back the stronger financial commitment proposed in Lord Heseltine’s recent No Stone Unturned report. 

More specifically and within those major project sums already committed or identified is a massive piece of potential good news for Worcestershire.  Additional funding is set to come our way following the announcement from Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, of £140 million for improvements to the M5 and the creation of a ‘managed motorway’ system between Junction 4a (M42 at Bromsgrove) and J6 (Sixways).  The LEP greatly welcomes the increased capacity and benefits this work will bring, particularly around Junction 6 of the motorway which is critical to our ambitions for development not only of a Worcester Technology Park but also of anything else of significance across the south or middle of the county.  The resultant scheme will be similar to that on the M42 around to the NEC and Birmingham Airport.

Worcestershire LEP is also set to receive an allocation of €68.1 million from a new EU Growth Programme for the seven year period from 2014-2020 (subject to final agreement on the 2014-2020 budget in the European Parliament).  This comes from the European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund and is a good settlement for Worcestershire.

Finally, under Phase 4 of the Regional Growth Fund we can celebrate three more first stage successes totalling over £6 million in potential grant funding.  Malvern Instruments will receive £3m to build a new R&D facility and to create nearly 50 new jobs, £2m has been earmarked for a Business Growth Fund and £1.5m for a redundant Buildings Grant programme, jointly with The Marches LEP (Herefordshire, Shropshire and The Wrekin).

China comes to town!


Towards the end of June, we were pleased to welcome a delegation of Chinese visitors to Worcestershire.  The delegation was led by Grace Pan Ming, Vice Mayor of Hezhou City, who graduated from the University of Worcester with a Masters Degree only five years ago.
 
The visit was organised by Worcestershire Ambassadors and included trips to Malvern Instruments, Evesham Vale Growers and the site of the proposed Worcester Technology Park (off Junction 6 of the M5).
 
Our Chair, Peter Pawsey, attended a networking breakfast for the delegation, where he presented an overview of Worcestershire’s economy, the role of the LEP and its aims for the future of the region.

 

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is one of the UK’s most prestigious business awards, bestowed each year by Her Majesty The Queen to recognise and encourage the achievements of businesses in the UK.
 
Businesses can enter for an award in three categories: Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development.
 
Also available is the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion that recognises individuals who have played an outstanding role in promoting the growth of business enterprise and/or entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in others.
 
Entry is by nomination only. Up to ten awards are made each year.

Further details, application  and nomination forms are available at:  https://queensawards.bis.gov.uk/Information or phone 020 7 215 6880.
 
The closing date for all entries and nominations is 30 September.


AMION appointed to work with WLEP

Following a formal tendering process, we are pleased to announce the appointment of specialist consultancy AMION to work with the LEP to develop its proposals for the Growth Fund and EU Growth Programme.  This will be informed by the strategic objectives already outlined in our Business Plan, “The Outlook is Bright in Worcestershire’.
 
Draft plans have to be submitted to BIS in the Autumn, with final submissions due by the Spring of 2014.


New Regulations toolkit

The WLEP Business Regulations sub group met in June to plan future actions.  Chaired by Ed Webb, Chairman of Webbs Garden Centres Ltd, membership of the group comprises private businesses and representatives from membership organisations such as the Federation for Small Businesses and the National Farmers’ Union.  Worcestershire Regulatory Services are lead partners.
 
The group will in the first instance be working on the development of tools to support start up businesses.  The aim is to provide clear guidance to help them understand their regulatory obligations.  The initial focus will be particularly on food sector businesses.
 
The anticipated launch date will be to coincide with the WLEP Conference being held on 10 October.

Dates for your diary

Start-up Britain Bus
24 July, Wyche Innovation Centre, Malvern

WLEP Board Meeting
25 July, Coombers, Shire Business Park, Worcester

WLEP Board Meeting
26 September, Coombers, Shire Business Park, Worcester

National LEP Network Summit
9 October, British Library, London

WLEP Conference
10 October, Sixways Stadium, Worcester

Funds available for green businesses

A £20 million funding programme has been launched to help supply chain companies within the green sector in the West Midlands develop, grow and diversify.

The Green Bridge Supply Chain Programme is available across the six West Midlands LEP areas, including Worcestershire.
 
Funded through the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, the scheme is aimed at companies that operate within the green sector or are seeking to diversify or set up within this sector. Grant support of between £20,000 and £100,000 is available to develop new markets, new products, new processes, skills development and purchase of capital equipment and premises refurbishment.  Applications for funding of over £100,000 may also be considered where significant economic benefits can be demonstrated.
 
The first round of funding is now open and the deadline for submission of applications is August 9th.  All projects must be completed by March 2015. Further details are available from: http://centreofenterprise.com/green-bridge-supply-chain-programme/

Help needed with research project

Dr Robin Bell from Worcester Business School is conducting a research project on international trade and needs help from West Midlands based organisations.

The research is designed to explore the perceptions of enterprises in the West Midlands to the development of international expansion and overseas trade, including any barriers to engaging and developing overseas opportunities.
The research has received some funding from the University of Worcester and will follow strict ethical guidelines to ensure all the data collected will be anonymous and securely stored.
If you would like to take part, please complete the on-line survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/midlandsenterprisedevelopment

Business support for Worcestershire entrepreneurs

Worcestershire Business Central has announced a new package of business support and funding available to county businesses:
  • Two days business support and access to grant funding of up to £1,000 for pre start-up or start-up businesses;
  • Two days business support and access to grant funding of up to £2,500 for post start-up businesses (up to 24 months old);
  • Four days support dedicated to growth initiatives, access to professional workshops and to grant funding of up to £2,500 to growth businesses (over 24 months old).
The project is part-funded by European Regional Development Funds and there are eligibility restrictions.  For further information, contact www.worcestershire.gov.uk/cms/start-up-and-grow/enterprising-worcestershire.aspx or the WLEP Access to Finance website
http://accesstofinance.wlep.co.uk/

Chamber of Commerce Awards

Categories include ‘Most promising new business’, ‘Sustainability in Business’, Excellence in innovation’.
 
Closing date for entry is 31 July at 4.00 pm. 
 
More information from: http://www.hwchamber.co.uk/chamber-awards-enter-now.aspx
 

The Spa Enterprise Awards

These new awards have been launched to reward entrepreneurs from Droitwich and the surrounding area.
 
Three categories are available: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and New Business Start-ups.  Deadline for entries is September 15th and further information is available from www.sebastars.co.uk
Copyright © 2013
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership.

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Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership
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Malvern Hills Science Park, Geraldine Road
Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3SZ
United Kingdom

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