Following a multi-million bid by Tunbridge Wells and other Councils in Kent in March of this year to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to create an innovation and growth fund that would focus on helping small, high-growth companies in the A21 corridor the Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed that the bid was successful. This is extremely good news and through a very high standard bid the Council were able to demonstrate how valuable the funding would be to support growth in this area.
There are some additional administrative processes to complete before the Council receives confirmation of the amount of grant funding but they are confident that it will allow them to launch the Escalate programme to businesses in November. They are in a good place to do this as £150k from KCC’s Regeneration Fund means they already have a West Kent scheme in place to develop a pipeline of projects to be launched.
Through Escalate a loan and grant fund will be created, initially for two years, however it is hoped this rolling programme could be in place for a number of years. The fund will focus on, and target, small businesses with the potential for rapid growth and in doing so will bridge the gap between early growth and expansion and will help to unlock bank finance.
The scheme will avoid duplication as all funding will be promoted in the area through the existing government-backed Growth Accelerator and the locally-financed High Growth Kent services. This will help the Council target those businesses that have the strongest growth prospects and ensure that businesses benefit from the right support as well as finance.
To put some context around this, there are approximately 80 businesses in the borough that are currently engaging with High Growth Kent.
Some examples of these businesses include:
Red Brick Media Group Ltd (market research)
Micralite Ltd (manufacturing)
Waste Oil Technology (manufacturing)
Bespoke Kitchens and Interiors Ltd (manufacturing)
Langton Business Services Ltd (management consultancy)