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The Solent Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced a broad range of funding that will help all sizes of businesses and organisations, with the aim of supporting job creation, safeguarding existing jobs, increasing profitability and helping the economy to grow in the region.

It is calling on those looking to start-up new businesses, those looking for money to get a particular project up-and-running, or those who need funding to support large-scale projects or programmes to talk to them about the funding available.

The Minister of State for Trade Policy, Conor Burns MP, visited the Solent region yesterday (Thursday) and launched the new funding offers, saying:

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“I am delighted to be able to launch this new support, which includes financial backing for the area’s world-class small and medium-sized business base to develop the new international markets and trading relationships that will boost UK productivity.

“I am committed to working with Solent LEP and businesses in the region to make sure Britain is ready to embrace the opportunities and overcome the challenges that leaving the EU on 31st October presents. Having attended Southampton University and lived for many years in the region, I know personally the dynamism of the Solent area.”

The LEP is particularly keen to receive applications that will support emerging strengths highlighted through consultation work with Solent residents and organisations in order to develop a Local Industrial Strategy for the region that will take it successfully into 2050. This includes:

• Marine and Maritime
• Advanced Manufacturing
• Aerospace
• Defence
• Life Science and Healthcare
• Digital and Creative Industries
• Oil and Gas
• Information Economy
• Visitor Economy
• Construction
• Clean / Green Technology

In addition, the new funding will support proposals to improve access and understanding of technical data, as well as those that enhance employer-led skills training in the region.

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The new funds can provide up to £5million towards major projects (although higher levels of investment will be exceptionally considered) and investments in smaller scale projects start from £5,000.

Funding for large-scale projects will seek to build on the success of the LEP’s significant Local Growth Fund investment in the area to date, which includes schemes such as the Isle of Wight College’s Centre of Excellence for Composites, Advanced Manufacturing and Marine, the UK’s first Centre for Cancer Immunology in Southampton, and a new link road to unlock investment at the Dunsbury Park site in Havant – now home to a new UK distribution centre for Fat Face.

Gary Jeffries, Solent LEP Chairman, said:

“Our internationally recognised region has always been at the vanguard of UK innovation, trade and investment and we want to invest now to ensure our coastal powerhouse leads the charge in the Government’s plans to unleash the productivity power of the nation. This funding for large-scale projects in the Solent region is key to bringing forward the transformational investments that will help create jobs and improve the economy for the benefit of everyone living, studying or working here.”

Large-scale funding is also open to organisations looking for programme funding, a co-investment approach with a broad remit, including rolling out the infrastructure to support digital connectivity and support for rural initiatives. An example of an existing programme is the Isle of Wight Rural SME Fund, where Natural Enterprise is managing a competitive funding programme to support rural businesses on the Isle of Wight.

Commenting on the successful programme, Graham Biss, Managing Director at Natural Enterprise, said:

“Natural Enterprise is delighted to be working with the LEP to target financial support to those Island businesses and projects where it will give the biggest boost to the Island’s rural economy. We have been able to support more than 40 SMEs to date and the funding we are able to provide through the programme has stimulated more than £1m of additional investment into local projects, enabling the rural businesses we are working with to create and safeguard more than 120 jobs.”

The suite of smaller funding packages for small and medium sized (SME) businesses can provide investment ranging from £5,000 – £0.5m and are targeted at those looking to start a brand-new business, those looking for money for a specific project to support their growth, such as expanding the business premises or bringing in new equipment, and supporting businesses seeking to respond to challenging trading conditions.

In addition to the funds launched today, the LEP will also shortly be announcing a new micro-grant programme to provide smaller funding awards, up to £5,000, to support businesses with a range of small projects that will unlock growth, including backing for independent retailers and money to enhance the digital capability of Solent businesses.

The LEP provides a wide range of support and advice on applying for any of its funding. Its Growth Hub team are available to support businesses seeking to access support and a one-to-one conversation can be booked via its website.

For larger projects, the LEP is holding free webinar sessions, with the first scheduled for Thursday 15th August 2019, regarding the funding available for large capital projects. To find out more and to book a place visit

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So stop selling off industrial sites to satisfy unnecessary housing developments.

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