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Support to grow your business

Looking for funding or support to develop your business? Here you'll discover a range of opportunities open to businesses in West Lancashire.

For more information and assistance with any of the schemes below, please contact the Council's Economic Regeneration team on 01695 712692 or email lets.talk@westlancs.gov.uk

We are happy to come and visit your business to talk you through the criteria and application processes, as well as to provide assistance with filling out any application forms.

Register with the business database

Do you want to be the first to know about business events, new support and funding programmes? If your business is based in West Lancashire, or you're looking to move into the area, make sure you're registered with the Economic Regeneration team's business database. Simply complete the business database registration form and we'll keep you up to date.

Rural Development Fund for Lancashire

Lancashire County Council has announced that the Lancashire LEADER programme is now officially open for business. The LEADER scheme is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) and is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The aim of LEADER is to create jobs and help businesses grow, which will then benefit the rural economy through a competitive grant scheme.

The last programme ran from 2009-2013 and invested a total of £5.675 million in Lancashire's rural economy with a total of 289 jobs created and £8,786 million of private sector match funding invested. A large number of West Lancashire businesses benefited from the fund including Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps, Pimbo Garden Centre, Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve and Moss Side Farm to name just a few.

Funding is now available for farming businesses and the focus is very much on job creation and growth of the business. Full details of the eligibility criteria can be found in the applicant handbook on the Rural Development Fund (external link) website.  

  • Grants will support a wide range of farm investments. They are particularly for businesses that want to invest in innovative business practices and new technologies to help them become more sustainable and productive.

Expressions of interest are also being taken for the following categories which are due to open for business later in the programme:

  • Forestry – processing of forestry products
  • Tourism/heritage – focus on creating conditions for jobs and growth but could be linked to food, drink, natural heritage, environment etc
  • Community – community economic development

Please be aware that the application process on average takes 4-6 months therefore, if you are hoping to apply for funding next year you need to think about planning permission, quotes / tenders and your business plan in advance.

The first round of funding for Enterprise is now closed and applications are now being assessed.

Application process

The application process is competitive and therefore there are no guarantees that an application for funding will be successful. Applications will be appraised and assessed against a broad range of criteria but the primary focus will be the creation of jobs, how the business will grow and the impact upon the local rural community. 

To find out more, visit the Rural Development Fund (external link) on Lancashire County Council's website.

Lancashire Business Growth Fund

Up to 20% funding of the total project cost is available for manufacturing companies to bring forward or up-scale their growth projects. Funding can be spent on either machinery/plant acquisition, or infrastructure improvement such as cabling, digital network, and servers. The main requirement is that jobs need to be created as a result of the investment. The minimum grant is £10,000 and therefore the minimum project value is £50,000. The maximum grant is £1 million. The application process is in two stages, starting with an online Expression of Interest, and if successful, following on with an invitation for a full application. All funding must be spent before March 2017, and all jobs need to be created before March 2018.

Who can apply:

  • Established manufacturing businesses, of all sizes, that operate on a business-to-business basis
  • Located in, or moving into Lancashire
  • Able to show that the proposed project will lead to job creation

International Trade Support

For small and medium sized manufacturing companies that are based in Lancashire and have the ambition and capacity to grow internationally, up to 50% funding is available for a wide range of assistance including international market research, international agreements and quotations, specialised training and support, and networking. Both businesses that are new to, or starting to export, as well as those that already export, are eligible. Projects must be completed by April 2017 at the latest.

Access to Finance

For small and medium sized companies looking for finance, whether for the first time or after they have been declined by a lender, the Access to Finance team offer free and impartial advice. Services the team provide include an assessment of your financial position and funding requirements, assistance with the development of a business plan, coaching and mentoring to develop an investment proposition, introductions to suitable finance providers, and support at meetings with lender and investors.

Who can apply:

  • Start-up and established small and medium sized businesses that operate on a business-to-business basis
  • There are some sector restrictions
  • Located in, or moving into the North West
  • Able to show growth potential

Rosebud Finance

Rosebud Finance helps small and medium sized companies in high growth sectors access fast, flexible loan and equity finance (or a combination of both) for growth. Finance ranged from £10,000 up to £1 million and is designed to meet the needs of the business with competitive rates and terms, along with a package of tailored business support and advice.

Who can apply:

  • Small and medium sized businesses that operate on a business-to-business basis
  • There are some sector restrictions
  • Located in, or moving into Lancashire
  • Able to show growth potential that will lead to job creation

Growth Support Programme

Tailored to start-up and young high growth businesses, the Growth Support Programme provides credible, expert support ranging from one-to-one coaching to seminars and master classes. Master classes focus on a specific subject such as digital marketing, selling, or finance. A 2-day seminar called Lean Launchpad equips businesses with the tools, knowledge and techniques to launch a successful enterprise and to accelerate their growth. Both the master classes and the Lean Launchpad seminars are held all over Lancashire, and are free to the business.

Who can apply:

  • Start-up and young small and medium sized businesses up to 3 years old that operate on a business-to-business basis
  • Located in, or moving into Lancashire
  • Able to show growth potential that will lead to job creation

Growth Mentoring Programme

The Growth Mentoring Programme is aimed at established high growth businesses and accelerates their growth by identifying and removing barriers such as business planning, finance, sales, marketing, and human resource management. Each business will be matched with a knowledgeable and experienced business mentor who will share his knowledge, experience and skills to help make effective decisions and develop a high quality growth action plan. Business mentors are available for every eligible business sector and are free to the business. Businesses choose the location and time of the support to suit their availability.

Who can apply:

  • Established small and medium sized businesses that are 3 years old or older and operate on a business-to-business basis
  • Located in, or moving into Lancashire
  • Able to show growth potential that will lead to job creation

Selling Made Easier Programme

The Selling Made Easier Programme is aimed at managing directors who are interested in developing their sales strategy. The programme is delivered in four sessions over eight weeks and will focus on how to develop your sales strategy and translate this into practical sales steps and results. The sessions are held across Lancashire and are free to the business.

Who can apply:

  • Managing directors of small and medium sized businesses over three years old, that operate on a business-to-business basis
  • Located in, or moving into Lancashire
  • Able to show growth potential or lead to job creation

Innovation Clinic

A research and development programme provided by the University of Central Lancashire, the Innovation Clinic offers tailored support to small and medium sized manufacturing and advanced engineering companies with high growth potential looking to develop a new tangible product or to diversify into new markets. The support comprises concept development, advice on intellectual property, business strategy development, market research and competitor analysis, and a summary report as a basis for further development.

Who can apply:

  • Small and medium sized manufacturing and advanced engineering companies that work on a business-to-business basis
  • Able to show growth potential

Centre for Global Eco-Innovation

The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, based at Lancaster University, aims to deliver collaborative research and development partnerships with businesses to support the development of new products, processes and services for the global marketplace and, in turn, deliver positive environmental impacts. There are four different programmes available to businesses, ranging from 3-month to 3-year partnerships:

  • A 3-month paid internship is undertaken by a student at undergraduate or postgraduate level outside their course of study, and written up as a report for the company. This programme is free to the business, except for any specific project related expenses
  • A 3-6 month research project is undertaken by a student as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate degree and written up as a dissertation. This programme is free to the business, except for any specific project related expenses
  • A 12-month research project is undertaken by a graduate researcher and written up as a dissertation for a Masters qualification. The cost to the business is £2,000 towards tuition fees plus any specific project related expenses
  • An intensive 3-year programme of funded research and development is undertaken by a qualified and experienced graduate who will use the research as the basis of a PhD. Supervision and support will be given by senior academic staff. The cost to the business is £5,500 in total per year for graduation services, tuition fees, and a contribution towards project materials that are used. There is a competitive process to select the best business projects. Applications from businesses will be assessed on the fit and availability of the requested academic expertise, their eco-innovation, commercial opportunity, and the medium/long term potential

Your local bank

If you are looking to finance your business, have you considered speaking with a relationship manager at your local bank?
 
Banks can offer practical solutions and a range of products to support your business venture, whether it be business growth or asset purchase and potentially can help you to secure vital 'match funding' for other funding programmes detailed within these business pages.  Banks have access to a range of services, including Enterprise Finance Guarantee (external link). Bank funding may often appear costly, however there are potential solutions to this issue. For example RBS are fully signed up to the Bank of England/HM Treasury Funding for Lending scheme (external link), which aims to address this issue.