Manufacturing SMEs in the South East can now access a share of more than £950,000 of dedicated support for businesses in the region it has been announced today. Business leaders are being urged to take advantage of support being delivered by the Manufacturing Growth Programme
(MGP), which will help them complete projects that boost productivity and capacity, introduce new products, innovate existing services and manage change following the pandemic.
Delivered by Oxford Innovation Services and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programme uses a network of 19 experienced growth managers to work with companies to identify barriers to growth, before putting in place an action plan to overcome them.
This could involve bringing in a specialist to deliver expert knowledge and guidance on issues or opportunities that will help them increase sales, become more-efficient and create new employment. The programme has already assisted 335 firms across the region, creating and safeguarding hundreds of jobs.
Dean Barnes, MGP regional director (pictured below), said: “Manufacturers appear to be emerging from the pandemic a lot quicker than we expected and we want to make sure we give them access to all the support and tools they need to complete the bounce-back.
“Our assistance is all about supporting SMEs and we have a proven track record of making a real difference to their short and long-term objectives. This starts with our industry-trained advisers, who use the latest online business diagnostic tools to underpin on-the-ground coaching and advice.”
He continued: “We can help companies overcome production bottlenecks, develop new products and even achieve ISO qualifications that can help when tendering for work.”
Confidence among SME manufacturers in the South East is at its highest level for two years according to a recent Manufacturing Barometer carried out by the MGP.
Nearly three-fifths of firms are expecting to increase sales between now and October, with 57% indicating that they are planning to boost investment over the next six months as they look to the future.
Out of those questioned, 54% highlighted an increased need to recruit staff over the coming months. While the Chancellor heralded his ‘business-friendly’ Budget earlier this year, less than a fifth (18%) feel that the measures introduced will aid recovery.
Mr Barnes said: “There is a sense of excitement about the future, but what is also clear is that SME manufacturers still need the right, targeted support to turn the vision into reality. This is where MGP can make a real difference.
“In fact, since we have been operational, we have referred many businesses to other specialist programmes — showing how a joined-up business support network can deliver real value and growth.
“Going forward, the message is simple. We have over £950,000 of grants available — it is up to SME manufacturers to come forward and take their share of the support boost.”
The MGP is open to companies in East Sussex, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, and Southampton.