By Claire West

Businesses across England were urged to get ready to apply for funding from the next round of the Regional Growth Fund today as the Deputy Prime Minister announced that Round 5 will formally open in October.

Round 5 will be focused entirely on private enterprise proposals, with high quality projects that can generate significant private sector investment and create sustainable jobs. Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will be able to support their local economies by bidding into the Local Growth Fund from 2015, as announced by the Treasury in June this year.

We want high quality bids for Round 5 so that the Regional Growth Fund can continue to support a variety of projects, industries and local areas to boost economic growth and create jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“The Regional Growth Fund has been a success, helping to create thousands of jobs. Britain is returning to long term growth, but we want to see business booming. I’d encourage all companies to look carefully at how the Fund can help you grow, and get ready to apply in October.”

Application forms for Round 5 will be available in early October and businesses will have until the closing date of 9 December to submit their bids. Companies who will not be ready to apply for Round 5 will be able to apply for Round 6, which will be launched in the summer of 2014.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

“The Regional Growth Fund is playing a pivotal role in supporting business and enterprise. The next round, which opens in October, will help keep the momentum going and complement the long-term approach of our industrial strategy — helping us invest and support key sectors.

“There is a relatively short window to submit an application so firms should start thinking now about the size and timing of their bid to help them expand and hire more skilled workers."

Lord Heseltine, chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for the Regional Growth Fund has also today published his five top tips for submitting a good bid to the fund to help businesses be ready. These include being realistic, demonstrating the benefits of the project and seeking guidance from officials and local business leaders.

While Round 5 requires minimum bids of £1 million, small and medium sized businesses should be aware that there are still funds available from existing Regional Growth Fund programmes which are still open for business. These schemes will have minimum bids from as little as £5,000 in some areas, and up to £1 million in others.

To help businesses with their applications, there will be a number of events and expression of interest days around the country from 11 October to help answer questions on Round 5 and advice on how to submit a strong bid. Further details of these events will be published on shortly.