Regional Growth Fund

Unlocking Business Investment 

The Sheffield City Region LEP programme ‘Unlocking Business Investment’ began life as a £25,000,000 programme selected, on competitive basis, by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund Ministerial Panel in Autumn 2012 (Round 3). In July 2013, the Government announced the selection of a further 102 projects and programmes (value £506,000,000) to receive RGF funding (RGF ‘Round 4’). This includes an award of £7,000,000 to ‘top up’ the SCR LEP Programme, increasing the value of the fund to £32,000,000 in total.

The purpose of the programme is to ‘unlock’ direct business investment, principally within SMEs, the footprint of which must be sustainable, private sector employment in the Sheffield City Region. As of April 2014, approximately £29 million of the fund has been allocated. Accordingly,  ~£3 million of funding is still available and application packs can be downloaded below.

Applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis until the final £3 million is allocated by the RGF Steering Group. It should be noted, that for the remainder of this programme, significant expenditure must have taken place by March 2015 and the balance of investment together with all jobs must be in place by March 2016.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Grants are available between £25,000 and £2,000,000. Awards between £25,000 and £99,999 will be processed through a sub-programme – which involves a shorter application form.
  • For a grant between £25,000 and £99,999 – the expected minimum number of new jobs is 5, and the likely minimum total project value is £125,000.
  • The sub-programme is open to all SMEs (i.e. not just small or micro businesses).
  • Grants are only available to support direct business investment i.e. the programme is not open to providers of business support or advice / speculative property development etc.
  • For a grant between £100,000 and £2,000,000 – the minimum number of new jobs is 10, and the minimum total project value is £500,000.
  • Safeguarded jobs can be considered – where there is a strong rationale / evidence base.
  • Significant expenditure must have taken place by March 2015 and the balance of investment together with all jobs must be in place by March 2016.
  • It will be a contractual requirement that the investment and any job created through it must be sustained for at least three years (5 years for large companies).
  • Applicants will normally require a minimum of 12 months trading history.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate a “case” for grant – explaining why the project would not go ahead in the City Region or proceed as quickly or on the same scale, without grant.
  • The funds supports capital projects which involve investment in equipment, machinery and tools; alterations to land and/or premises to meet the needs of the business.
  • Grants relating to capital projects can be calculated as a percentage of the cost of the capital items or as a –percentage of the salary costs of the jobs specifically created by the project over a two year period. For the avoidance of doubt, it is one or the other, not both.
  • It is also possible to apply for grant towards projects associated with new research and development undertaken by the business. This must be new and discreet activity.
  • Small programme projects will be subject to a single internal appraisal process which will not attract a cost. For schemes looking for grant above £100,000, due diligence costs will be met by the applicant – although for the vast majority of successful applicants, this will be no more than £3,000 – £5,000.
  • We would expect projects to be appraised and contracts signed 8-12 weeks after the date of application.

Eligible projects will be selected on a competitive basis by the LEP Steering Group taking into account:

  • The number of new sustainable, private sector jobs created
  • The level  of  private sector leverage involved
  • Additionality – the case for grant established in the application
  • Economic impact – growth and not displacement
  • Eligibility for RGF support – including the nature of the expenditure and issues such as State Aid compliance
  • Deliverability – and ability to have an immediate impact and risk profile
  • Value for (public) money.

How to apply

Application forms are now available.  In advance of submitting an application – applicants are strongly advised to contact their local economic development teams for advice and support.

Please email this application (2 parts), along with any supporting documents to RGF3accountablebody@sheffield.gov.uk by the deadline.

Key contacts in each SCR Local Authority Team:

  • Sheffield –  Andy Bunn  (0114 2232 386 – Andrew.Bunn@sheffield.gov.uk)
  • Barnsley –  Andrew Ainsworth (01226 787535 –Andrewainsworth@barnsley.gov.uk)
  • Rotherham – Tim O’Connell (01709 254 444 – Tim.OConnell@rotherham.gov.uk)
  • Doncaster – Sue Harrison (01302 862474 / 07826510404  – sue.harrison@doncaster.gov.uk)
  • Bassetlaw – Robert Wilkinson (01909 533230 – Robert.Wilkinson@bassetlaw.gov.uk)
  • Chesterfield – Matthew Southgate (01246) 345272 – matthew.southgate@chesterfield.gov.uk)
  • North East Derbyshire – Bryan Harrison (01246 217204 / 07814420175  – bryan.harrison@ne-derbyshire.gov.uk)
  • Bolsover – Sonia Coleman (01246 242413 sonia.coleman@bolsover.gov.uk)
  • Derbyshire Dales – Giles Dann (01629 761211 – Giles.Dann@derbyshiredales.gov.uk)

Please note, to speed up the application process the Expression of Interest phase of the appraisal process has been removed. This means, applicants that meet the eligibility criteria will proceed to the full application stage – which requires the submission of a significant amount of information up front. Please allow adequate time to complete these forms.

Key quotes / comments

Steering Group member David Grey said – “The SCR LEP bid for, and secured this funding on a competitive basis. Since then we have set about securing the maximum value for public money, and in doing so, supporting in as many companies as possible to invest and grow. Given the profile of companies in our region – I am delighted that smaller companies are now able to access funding through this programme. I would encourage any business with suitable project to apply”.

More general information

For more general information on the RGF programme please contact David Hewitt on 0114 2541335 or (david.hewitt@sheffieldcityregion.org.uk). For media enquiries please contact Philip Cooper (philip.cooper@sheffieldcityregion.org.uk).

For an example of several project supported through the programme – click here.

For more general information on the Regional Growth fund see: http://www.bis.gov.uk/rgf.

Click here for information on other access to finance schemes operating in the Sheffield City Region.