By Daniel Hunter

The government today (Thursday) urged firms across the country to apply for a share of £350 million as the deadline for Round 4 of the Regional Growth Fund looms closer.

Round 4 builds on the success of the first three rounds and will continue to support high quality projects and programmes that generate private sector investment and create sustainable jobs.

Since the Regional Growth Fund opened in May 2010, it has been supporting many different projects from a variety of different industries and sectors to help rebalance the economy and boost economic growth.

For example over the first three rounds:

• £326 million is supporting 59 projects within the automotive sector including companies such as Nissan, Zytek and Nifco.

• £243 million is supporting 63 projects within the energy industry including the renewable and low carbon sectors.

• £55 million is supporting 14 projects within the life sciences sector including companies such as Redx Pharma and Molecular Profiles.

• £137 million is supporting 16 projects within the aerospace sector such as Airbus, Aeromet and Druck Ltd.

• Almost £20 million and £5 million is supporting VisitEngland and Creative England respectfully to market over 80 English tourist areas as job and growth destinations and help boost opportunities for digital start ups and SMEs in the creative sector.

• Over 1,100 grants have been given to SMEs through RGF programmes administered by intermediaries such as banks and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs).

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“Up and down the country, the Regional Growth Fund is investing in companies that can create jobs and attract substantial match-funding from the private sector. For every pound of government money, the private sector is putting in six pounds.

“This is £350 million up for grabs for companies and projects in every region of England to grow. I want more businesses in the region to win money, lever private sector investment and achieve their ambitions.”

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“I've visited companies of all sizes across the country that are producing more, exporting more or hiring more skilled workers thanks to the Regional Growth Fund. The Fund now has very strong momentum and I do not want other firms to miss out on this huge opportunity. So log onto the website and see how you can bid for the £350 million available."

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“This is a good initiative which I would encourage small firms to look at to see if they can benefit from it. We have heard some good stories from small businesses that have won funding. With only a month to go, we really hope that small firms see this is available and the value of applying for a grant.”

In a further update the Government announced that it has already signed nine final offer letters with companies from Round 3, well ahead of its April 19 deadline. The three month deadlines have helped companies to start their projects early and many more will be signed up during March and up to the April deadline.

One such company is Redigroup, in Doncaster, a manufacturer and supplier of stand-alone handling and storage solutions. The firm secured £1 million from the fund to create an automated innovation centre to increase its storage capabilities by 90%.

Construction work on the new facility will start straight away with completion scheduled for the summer of 2013.

The Regional Growth Fund has already held five regional expression of interest events since Round 4 opened in January to offer guidance and support to firms who are interested in applying. These have been attended with strong interest by over 130 potential applicants. The last two events will be in Nottingham on 25 February and London on the 4 March.

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