Supporting Northamptonshire Businesses
Fact: Northamptonshire is one of the most entrepreneurial counties in the country with 99.8% of businesses in Northamptonshire having less than 250 employees. Another fact: We are good at starting businesses in Northamptonshire leading to a high number of start-up businesses each year. One more fact: The survival rate for small start-up businesses is not as good as it could be according to the Northamptonshire Growth Hub.
The Northamptonshire Growth Hub was set up in 2013 by The University of Northampton and its partner The Northamptonshire County Council to help local businesses to grow. The Growth Hub soon identified that one of the barriers to growth for many small businesses is the accessibility of external business expertise and support.
“Many of our small businesses and entrepreneurs in the county don’t know where to go for help” says Malcolm Johnston Head of Enterprise at the Northamptonshire Growth Hub. “So, we have mapped the business support available locally and nationally – much of which is free to users – and provided a service to direct businesses and entrepreneurs to the help they need.”
Northamptonshire Growth Hub has now worked with over 4000 businesses and individuals. In addition, the University of Northampton has secured c£6.6million of funding through the European Regional Development Fund to deliver two projects to specifically address gaps in business support for the county’s small and medium sized enterprise (SMEs): Ready2Grow and Innovate Northamptonshire.
The Ready2Grow project was created in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council in response to the recognition that there was very little support available for people looking to start up a new business or for SMEs to help grow their existing businesses. Therefore, Ready2Grow aims to provide support for ‘start-ups’ and ‘growers’ by equipping them with all the information they need to enable them to progress their ideas or to explore options for turning an existing business into a stronger more sustainable organisation.
The project offers a series of workshops along with one-to- one support from one of their expert advisers, plus the opportunity to apply for grant funding to support setup costs or the growth and development of the business. The overarching aim of Ready2Grow is to enhance the Northamptonshire economy by creating new businesses and enabling existing businesses to grow and create more jobs.
The Ready2Grow project is perfect for businesses who are looking for the next stage in their business progression, require business advice and information and want the best chance possible to succeed.
The Innovate Northamptonshire project aims to promote research and innovation within SMEs across Northamptonshire and offers a combination of workshops, advice, demonstrator visits and financial assistance depending upon the innovation need of each SME.
Northamptonshire Growth Hub identified through University research that many small businesses don’t take on external help, because they are unsure where to go or who to trust. Many small businesses tend to get stuck where they find themselves working IN their business as opposed to ON their business. Innovation is the key thing that businesses need to survive and succeed.
The Innovate Northamptonshire project’s ultimate goal is to try and encourage businesses to become more innovative as a way of growing their business, for example in the development of new to the market products. In particular the project promotes collaboration with external expertise such as research organisations like Universities, or specialists in their field. Innovate Northamptonshire’s adviser can help business to source that expertise which is often the stumbling block.