All Things Business: The story of the Northamptonshire Growth Hub

Northamptonshire. One of the biggest entrepreneurial markets in the country. 4 years. 2 projects. 2 major partners. Over 4,000 local businesses. This is the story of the Northamptonshire Growth Hub…

This article was published in the All Things Business magazine and we have reproduced it here.

The Northamptonshire Growth Hub was set up in November 2013 with the purpose of providing unbiased and comprehensive business support to local businesses within the county. It was set up by three local partners; the University of Northampton, Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership. Originally, there was no government funding available, but in April 2015 they secured their first round of government funding and are now entering their 3rd year of funded support.

The Northamptonshire Growth Hub was the 4th or 5th growth hub to launch in England. Over the last 4 years, the hub has grown significantly from when it launched. It was a slow start, with only 5 enquiries in its first month, but then it grew quickly by raising awareness in the local business community, through marketing and through its partners. Currently, there are around 30,000 businesses within Northamptonshire and the Northamptonshire Growth Hub has helped over 4,000 of those businesses.

Research carried out by the Growth Hub and its partners identified that the majority of small businesses didn’t know where to go for help or support. Many businesses didn’t know what they needed to do in order to grow their business. The Northamptonshire Growth Hub became a place where businesses at any stage of their development could contact experienced business advisers for quick and easy access to support on a range of enquiries.

“At the hub, we encourage businesses to ring us up and speak to us” Malcolm Johnston, Head of Enterprise at Northamptonshire Growth Hub commented. “We want to engage them in conversation about their business, as we want to get to know every business. We then guide them through a business diagnostic conversation to get a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. This enables us to identify how best we can help.

“We try and get a clear understanding of each business and if it’s appropriate, we can help either by supporting the business ourselves, or by referring them to the most relevant provision both inside the county and beyond.”

The Northamptonshire Growth Hub can offer a range of services to Northamptonshire businesses, ranging from growth focused workshops and business plan preparation to individual 121 sessions with a business adviser. The Hub is currently delivering two projects for the University of Northampton: Ready2Grow and Innovate Northamptonshire. These projects are part-funded by the European Regional Development fund and will help local SMES to start or grow their business, or to bring exciting new developments into the county through collaborative research and innovation.

The Northamptonshire Growth Hub launched the Northamptonshire Marketplace in September 2016. This is an online portal where businesses can register to provide business services to SMEs, or to look for assistance from registered providers. Details of the Marketplace and how to join can be found at: www.northamptonshiregrowthhub.co.uk/access-to-external-support

Over the last 6 months, the Northamptonshire Growth Hub has delivered record-breaking results. The team has worked with more than 515 different businesses and individuals between January and March this year – delivering higher than ever levels of face to face support. 27 local businesses have received more than 12 hours support and 159 businesses more than 3 hours support.

Continuous improvement is important to ensure the highest quality service, and the Hub carries out regular surveys to inform their service delivery. The feedback has been fantastic -– achieving a customer satisfaction score of 92% in a recent customer survey.

Do you want your business to grow and thrive? Whether you’re a large established business, or a small start-up business, the Northamptonshire Growth Hub will help you access the best support available to meet your needs.

If you would like to have a discussion with one of the Northamptonshire Growth Hub’s business advisers, call them on 01604 212696 or visit www.northamptonshiregrowthhub.co.uk