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CIOS Growth Hub grant funding on hold…

On Friday 23 February we were informed by Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Hub that they had taken the decision today to pause their grant schemes.  This was a result of the pipeline exceeding the funding available. This had arisen primarily due to unprecedented demand for Net Zero and Rural Business Grants.

They will be using the pause to undertake a review of the projects with grant facilitation and will not be currently accepting new applications. They will however be running a reserve list for “strong grant proposals”, should the review result in any headroom in our grant schemes.

We have taken the decision to cancel our breakfast briefing scheduled for Wednesday 28 February, not because the CIOS Growth Hub has nothing to offer (it has – see below) but because from experience it will have been the mention of “grants” that have attracted the interest of some 40 business men and women who had booked to attend the event.

So where are we with grant funding?

The popularity of the grant funding and subsequent willingness of businesses to invest in their own growth is good news for the Cornish economy. And it should be acknowledged that there are other funding options available to business (including debt and equity funding).

But grants remain a popular funding option and understandably so, as in the right situation they can de-risk and/or improve the return on investment on a project – often facilitating a step change in a business.

According to a recent article in South West Business Insider there is “£109m of grants available for businesses in the South West” spread out over 696 grant schemes. So, there is grant funding available but nothing like the quantum there has been in recent decades and also:

  1. I suspect that a large proportion of the £109m is aimed at farmers etc (Farming Investment Fund) or businesses engaged in R&D (Innovate UK/RD&I funding);
  2. Another proportion across the South West will be for grant schemes funded through UK Shared Prosperity Fund and / or Rural Prosperity Fund (both fully committed in CIOS?)

Outside of the above I suspect that a number of the grant schemes are fairly low-level interventions to support training etc.

The fragmentation of the sources of grant added to a propensity for schemes to have a fairly tight window for applications has led to increased use of the following to find grants:

  • Growth Hubs;
  • Other support agencies; and,
  • Online search platforms including the government’s “Find a Grant” and the one mentioned in the South West Business Insider article (“GetBusinessGrants”).

I understand the former only work / work best for a specific enquiry for grants, whilst the search platforms would be more generalised.

So where are we with the CIOS Growth Hub offering?

The direct administration of grants is a fairly recent addition to the services offered by the CIOS Growth Hub. As far as I am aware, they are still fulfilling their core purpose which is as a signposting organisation to businesses of all sizes looking to understand what support there is for them to develop.

In addition, as indicated above, the CIOS Growth Hub is also the gateway to several business support schemes including:

  • Recruitment Support
  • Net Zero Support
  • Skills Support
  • Growth Planning Support
  • Manufacturing Business Support
  • Research, Development, and Innovation Support

More details of these and other business support programmes that can be accessed through the CIOS Growth Hub.

PKF Francis Clark

We keep up date with the more significant (£ intervention) grant schemes and post up details on our website.

This year’s Finance in Cornwall event will be taking place on the morning of 14 May 2024 at Newquay Cinema.  It is the 16th year running of this event and is aimed at disseminating information on the range of funding and support potentially available to businesses based in Cornwall.

It is be based largely on short (10 minute) presentations for a range of funders and business support agencies – covering funding from Start Up Loans to a listing on the London Stock Exchange. More details will be posted onto our website shortly. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

CIOS Growth will be providing us all with an update at that event.

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