By Daniel Hunter

The University of Wolverhampton has secured £1.4 million from the Government to enable regional businesses to grow and create new jobs, it was announced today (Friday).

Alongside long-standing partners the Express and Star, the University is delighted to have been successful in its bid for funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.

The Express and Star Green Shoots Fund will fund 50 small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Black Country and create a minimum of 75 jobs.

Businesses from certain key sectors will be able to bid for funding when the scheme is officially launched in the New Year.

Support will be targeted at businesses from sectors identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as having the most potential for growth and maximising impact for the local economy. These are:

- Advanced Manufacturing
- Building Technologies
- Transport Technologies including Aerospace
- Environmental Technologies
- Business services

Professor Ian Oakes, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “Alongside our partners the Express and Star, we are delighted to be bringing this level of prosperity into the region which will enable businesses to thrive. It is particularly significant at an exciting time for the region, with the i54 development and new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant on the edge of Wolverhampton.

“The University of Wolverhampton is based in the heartlands of the industrial revolution, and the region has a long history in manufacturing. The Black Country is striving to reinvigorate itself after many years of industrial decline and the University is central to driving growth through innovation and graduate skills.

“We have an international reputation in supporting businesses to become more competitive as well as stimulating the start-up of many new enterprises.

“The scheme is focused on improving the competitiveness of SMEs and creating opportunities in the region. SMEs that can demonstrate they are high growth companies in terms of their ability to create jobs, develop their business and be sustainable will be able to bid for funding when the scheme launches next year.

“Successful competitive companies will ensure we retain the skills of our graduates in the region to grow our economy, and continue to develop opportunities for jobs and career progression.”

The Express and Star Green Shoots Fund will help to create new employment opportunities in the region and address the long standing issue of SME access to funds by creating a minimum of 75 new jobs through investments in at least 50 companies.

Companies receiving grant support will also be provided with expert mentors drawn from the local business community who will be able to work with them as needed for at least 12 months to maximise the benefits of the investment and reduce the risks of failure.

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