Growth Deals Bring promise to local economies

With the announcement last week of the Government’s Growth Deals, the first phase of the £6 billion investment into local projects is now underway.

The money will go towards providing support for local businesses to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure projects; including transport improvements and super-fast broadband networks.

Full details of the projects that are going on in your area are available here. For more information on the growth deals announced by Coast to Capital LEP click here, and by Enterprise M3 LEP click here.

Another historic growth deal signed to benefit the region’s SMEs

The Enterprise M3 LEP today agreed an historic Growth Deal with the Government which will see £118 million invested in the Surrey and Hampshire area.

£35 million has been confirmed in the first year, and as part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the Enterprise M3 LEP it has provided an indicative award of a further £83 million of funding from 2016/17 onwards. The deal will help to create up to 8,000 jobs, allow more than 7,000 homes to be built and generate up to £440 million in public and private investment.

Key for local SMEs will be the Enterprise M3 Growth Hub, the development of a Business Growth Hub that will provide a focussed and co-ordinated support offer for all local businesses to secure the connections they need to start, grow and develop their business.

For more information on the Growth Deal and all it hopes to achieve click here.

Region’s SMEs to benefit from £202 million growth deal announced by Coast to Capital LEP

Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership today announced a deal, worth £202 million over six years, £38 million in 2015/16, which will deliver 14,000 new jobs, 4,600 new homes and 190,000 square metres of employment space. (more…)

South East SMEs contribute to Britain’s maritime history

This week heralds an important event in Britain’s maritime history. On the 4th July, HM Queen will formally name HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth Dockyard. This long awaited aircraft carrier will be the largest ship ever used by the Royal Navy with a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, a length of 265m, width of 120 metres and is 68 metres tall (that’s taller than Niagra Falls). Along with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, she is three times larger that the Invincible class carrier she replaces.

So apart from being a political football and a massive and sometimes controversial, statement projecting the UK’s power and influence in peacetime, wartime and humanitarian crises  - what effect will she have on our economy?

Well a little known fact is that despite advances in technology and air transport 95% of our traded produce travels by sea, that adds up to £524 million of imported goods. Globally 90% of world traded goods still travel by sea. Despite us feeling we are in “modern” times, piracy with unsecure trade routes is still an issue in some parts of the world. A global strategic footprint is still important.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will have a range of 8-10000 nautical miles and will serve for 50 years. It’s highly probable that her final commanding officer is yet to be born!

However, as a manufacturing person the key thing to me is that this is an impressive example of how UK manufacturing can excel. Most will be aware that no single shipyard in the UK was big enough to build the ship by itself, so “modules” were constructed and transported to Roysth where the ship was finally assembled using a specially made crane that could lift over 1000 tonnes.

Frustratingly however this is just the tip of the iceberg in the sense of the overall value proposition. In terms of the South East some of the major ship modules were built in Portsmouth but many other high value systems and components were made by local companies such as Alfa Laval Ltd, based in Camberley, who made the heat exchangers for the fresh water system. Other components manufactured in the region include the communications system much of which was designed and made in Crawley, High Wycombe and Portsmouth and stores refrigeration which was made in Kent. The visual surveillance system and integrated navigation and bridge system was designed and made by two different companies in New Malden!

Not all of the systems are purely for military use either. Many have uses in the civil sector or utilise “commercial off the shelf” technology. It’s unfortunate that these things are never discussed by the media as they aren’t obvious and are sometimes difficult to explain. It’s easier to visualise the large steel fabrications!

Of course eventually the carrier will have it’s own air capability with both rotary and fixed wing aircraft. The carrier will fly F35B Lightning II “stealth” aircraft, of which 15% of the value and workshare will have been designed and manufactured in the UK, again much of which within London and the South East. These aircraft are the successors to Harrier and have vertical take off and landing capability- but with an infinitesimal amount of extra technology!

All of this design and manufacturing work is of very high added value, employing engineers and programme managers of the highest calibre. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a showcase of talent that enables these design and manufacture businesses to demonstrate their world class capabilities, export products globally to both military and civil projects and lead our a economy into export led sustainable growth.

For a full list of the companies that helped produce HMS Queen Elizabeth, click here.

Equity and debt: what is the most effective way to fund a growing company?

Taking a business to the next stage can be daunting. It requires confidence, capability and capital. In recent years, the third of these all-important ingredients was relatively easy and cheap to secure through bank lending.  All that changed with the financial crisis. Today, many business owners will tell you that the new reality means growth ambitions have had to be put on hold.

However, there is a strong alternative form of finance: equity. This form of funding was most commonly used to grow businesses before the world got hooked on the availability of cheap debt. At BGF we believe that equity has always been one of the best ways to fund a growing business. Here Jon Rhodes, Director of External Affairs Communications and Marketing at Business Growth Fund (BGF), answers some of the most frequently asked questions about equity finance. (more…)

About SME Rocket

If you are a fast growing SME, no matter your sector, with an average annual turnover of £2.5-£100 million then this blog will give you insight into business critical issues. Your company is one of a number of unsung heroes in the UK economy and you are very important to the UK.

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