The University of Derby has helped generate more than 1,900 jobs in the East Midlands – exceeding its Invest to Grow scheme job target, set at 1,873 jobs by 2024.
The Invest to Grow scheme, designed to support private sector businesses across the region to innovate, grow and create jobs, has to date provided 230 individual awards to businesses across the East Midlands, totalling £26.1m.
Mark Wheddon, Head of Delivery – Invest to Grow at the University of Derby, said: “Our Invest to Grow programme has achieved a significant milestone and we are delighted to have been able to support so many businesses with their growth and innovative projects across a range of sectors throughout the East Midlands.
“Part of the reason for the success and why the target has been met early is due to the number of awards we have supported across a wide range of sectors and with those businesses creating jobs in higher numbers and sooner.
“During the five years Invest to Grow has been supporting businesses, we have seen several significant national events which have affected business investment confidence, such as the UK steel crisis in late 2015, the Brexit referendum in 2016 and presently the COVID-19 crisis. Despite this, we have continued to support business investment and seen the creation of jobs across a range of industry sectors and size of business.
“As well as generating a significant number of jobs, the scheme has helped develop new relationships with businesses, with firms reporting a deeper understanding of the practical, financial and community support available from the University and indicating they are keen to continue building the relationship.”
Opening to applications in early 2015, the programme is a re-circulating finance scheme, providing loans and grants, or a combination of both, to support specific projects typically related to businesses growing, developing or improving their products and related services.
The scheme has made 230 awards, totalling £26.1m to businesses across the East Midlands region. This has seen more than 1,900 full time jobs created and safeguarded so far, with £98m of private sector funding injected into the East Midlands economy.
The programme is managed and delivered by a dedicated programme team from the University of Derby and is supported by an independent Strategic Investment Panel which makes funding recommendations on a business-by-business basis.
Mark added: “Many of the businesses we have supported have been affected by the lockdown and the COVID-19 crisis. They are facing serious challenges with the cancellation of large volumes of current orders by customers, significant drops in turnover, the furloughing of staff and considerations about how to safely reopen, how to adapt or diversify their product or service offer, alongside cash flow constraints.
“We have been able to support businesses by accommodating immediate loan repayment holidays and reprofiling of their outstanding Invest to Grow loans. We’ve also been signposting them to the government support available and, where possible, linking them up with additional support available from the University. We continue to listen to businesses about how they are coping with COVID-19 disruptions and how the University can support their requirements to safely rebuild, restart and reopen.”
The University of Derby’s Invest to Grow scheme is open for new applications.