By Daniel Hunter

A new round of the Regional Growth Fund has opened as the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called on businesses across the country to bid for a share of the £300 million cash pot.

The Deputy Prime Minister praised ‘home grown and British-based businesses’ for their crucial role in Britain’s economic recovery.

So far £2.6 billion from the first four rounds of the Regional Growth Fund has supported over 400 projects and programmes, which will create and safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs over the long-term and stimulate £14.7 billion of private sector investment.

Round 5 will be open to private sector bidders seeking £1 million or more. The government is calling for companies planning high quality projects that will generate significant private sector investment and sustainable jobs. Businesses will be able to submit their bids until noon on 9 December.

Nick Clegg will visit DUCO and Responsive Engineering in Newcastle to see how money they have received from the Fund will help them open up new markets and create jobs in the local economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “This fund has so far helped over 400 projects and over 3,000 SMEs across the country to boost our economy - expanding, improving, innovating and helping secure our economic recovery.

“The economic recovery is starting to bloom — we’re seeing very encouraging signs that we are turning a crucial corner on our road to recovery. Home-grown and British-based businesses are leading that charge for a stronger economy. The Regional Growth Fund is a helping hand from the government, but I pay tribute to the people who are working hard to fuel our recovery.

“My message to businesses in every region is clear - if you’ve got a project that needs a boost, bid for cash from the Regional Growth Fund.”

The Deputy Prime Minister will visit two companies in Newcastle on Friday:

- DUCO Ltd in Walker, Newcastle, is using its £3.6million award cash to create 168 jobs and safeguard 191 posts and to expand its R&D facility and develop a new manufacturing plant which will produce enormous steel tube cables (called umbilicals in the industry) used to control and maintain subsea wells from offshore platforms or ships.

- Responsive Engineering in Team Valley. They were awarded £654,000 from the Fund in Round 2, as part of the Let’s Grow Package of projects, to invest in a new plant and machinery to expand the company’s engineering capability. This has created 82 full time permanent jobs. The investment means that the company can keep ahead of the competition with new highly efficient machinery to precisely cut and weld metal parts for their clients in the oil and gas industry.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “DUCO Ltd and Responsive engineering are fine examples of how the Regional Growth Fund is helping local Newcastle companies grow stronger and give hundreds of people from the North East highly skilled jobs.”

To help bidders on their applications, road shows and expression of interest days will be held throughout the country from today to provide advice on how to make a successful bid. These will be in the following locations:

11 Oct - Newcastle, North East (launch event)
14 Oct - Loughborough, East Midlands
25 Oct - Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Humber
05 Nov - Plymouth, South West
13 Nov - Liverpool, North West
14 Nov - Birmingham, West Midlands

The Business Secretary was in West Yorkshire yesterday (Thursday) to visit Haribo, one of the UK’s leading confectionery brands, as they unveiled their plans for a new purpose built production facility, supported by the Regional Growth Fund and marking a total investment of £92 million.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The landmark investment by Haribo, supported by £6.4 million from the Regional Growth Fund, is a huge boost for West Yorkshire. The factory expansion will not only increase manufacturing activity but also create 286 new jobs for the area.

"The Regional Growth Fund is a key part of our plan for growth, helping to create new jobs outside London and mobilising over £5 of private sector investment for every £1 government puts in. Round 5 is now open for applications and I urge businesses to see how it can help them hire more people or expand to new markets."

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “Round 5 requires minimum bids of £1 million but smaller bids are also supported by the fund through programmes. That is why I am making sure that local and national programmes are available to small to medium-sized businesses from as little as £5,000 in some areas all the way up to £1 million. Since the Fund started, over 3,000 grants have been given to SMEs through programmes.

“We expect there will be stiff competition, so companies should take time over their application and demonstrate the benefits that support will bring. We want more businesses to benefit so that they can achieve their ambitions.”

Round 6 of the Regional Growth Fund will be launched in the summer of 2014 so that any companies who will not be ready to apply by December can start planning for applications in 2014.

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