Contributing Editor and community Reporter Paris Ali-Pilling reports on Portsmouth’s SME manufacturers being urged to take their share of a £6.5m funding boost as firms try to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Portsmouth’s small to medium sized (SME) manufacturers have been advised to take a share of the £6.5m funding boost to help these companies recover from the coronavirus pandemic while also addressing the key barriers to growth.
The Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Oxford Innovation Services. The Programme has now been extended to December 2022 to give 2800 more companies the access to grants and industry experts to help tackle support improvement plans and the immediate issues of businesses. With this additional backing, it will help to create and safeguard 3500 new jobs.
The successful firms who apply for the grant will be given access to their own committed local Manufacturing Growth Manger, who in turn, will use GROWTHmapper, which is a comprehensive diagnostic tool aimed for manufacturers to underpin coaching and advice to help grow the business. Action plans created using this tool range from people skills and management to marketing and environmental improvements.
Martin Coats, Managing Director of the Manufacturing Growth Programme, explains, ‘All the media attention is on the headline manufacturers and how they are coping in the wake of Covid-19…it’s our job to look at how the smaller manufacturers supporting these big businesses are performing and what we can do to help them,’
‘Our track record in delivering on-the-ground expert support was pivotal in us securing an additional £6.5m of funding that is ring-fenced for ensuring SME manufacturers can overcome barriers to growth and return to doing what they do best…making things.’
Martin continues, ‘Helping manufacturers is not easy and you need a tailored approach, delivered by experts who know what it is like working in industry. The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), their local Growth Hubs and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have seen first-hand the value we add to firms in their respective areas and this has resulted in further commitment to support us for another two and a half years.’
The Manufacturing Growth Programme launched in October 2016 and since then, has been supporting over 3000 companies and is the only dedicated support programme for SME manufacturers in England.
The Programme has added tens of millions of pounds to the English economy, creating over 4100 jobs while also safeguarding thousands more. 15 manufacturing sectors have been assisted to help increase productivity and competitiveness.
In a recent survey conducted by the MGP, in partnership with the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service, found that there is a critical need for faster financial support from the UK Government as they see sales plummeting and potential job cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Martin noted, ‘It is no great surprise to see that every indicator for confidence among firms appears to have worsened over the last six months. That said, it is heartening to see that some companies are adapting to the situation by diversifying their processes and product ranges in all manner of innovative ways,’
‘While the number of projects we have supported has been maintained since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, demand has shifted from the larger SMEs towards micro businesses.
‘This has also led to a change in the type of assistance. There is more demand for shorter-term marketing and product development projects and less for productivity and capacity building projects.
‘As the economy recovers, it will be important to shift this pattern back, ensuring that support reaches larger SME manufacturers as well and delivers projects that rebuild capacity. The MGP is more important than ever in achieving this.’
The MGP will be working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) so they can support English manufacturers in their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic
Featured image courtesy of Cucumber Public Relations Ltd.
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