Growth Hub to accelerate economic growth

Businesses in Gloucestershire will be on a fast-track to greater success and expansion, thanks to proposals for a new ‘Growth Hub’ for the county. The ambitious and innovative plans will offer both physical and virtual ‘business support’ resources and expertise across the county.

They are the brainchild of a pioneering partnership between GFirst LEP (the Local Enterprise Partnership for Gloucestershire) and the University of Gloucestershire. The Growth Hub will provide a range of innovative and tailored business services designed to boost the development of companies with high growth potential, increase exports, and fast-track entrepreneurial start-ups.

The plans have secured national backing, in the form of £2.7 million invested by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).  The University successfully applied for support from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund, which supports Universities to undertake strategic innovation.

Developed following consultation with the Gloucestershire business community, the Growth Hub will provide a one-stop approach for businesses, offering a diverse range of co-ordinated services.  It will provide a tailored business service for those companies and start-ups with a potential for high growth. This will work on the basis of understanding a company’s specific goals, drivers and requirements and working with the business to formulate a tailored package of support.

Stephen Marston, Vice Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, comments: “The University has a long-standing commitment to support economic growth and business success in Gloucestershire.  Over the past two years, we have built a strong partnership with the Gloucestershire LEP to help deliver that goal.  We have made good progress, expanding our facilities for enterprise and new business start-ups, supporting innovation, introducing new programmes to produce the graduates that employers want, and extending our programme of knowledge exchange and applied research.” 

“Today’s announcement about the formation of the Growth Hub represents the next major step in that agenda.  We will be joining forces with the LEP, integrating our services for business, and working together for growth in Gloucestershire.”

“I am delighted that the University has successfully secured financial backing from the HEFCE.  This is welcome recognition that the Growth Hub is an innovation of national significance  - a University partnering with its LEP to drive growth in knowledge intensive, high value adding companies and sectors through a seamless service to business.  The University’s Business School will be central to this development, because we intend it to become an exemplar of how a Business School can achieve intensive engagement with local businesses, so that business understanding and experience informs all our teaching and research, to the benefit of staff and students as well as the businesses we serve.”

“The investment announced today will allow us to move much further and faster in integrating University and LEP activities and networks, and to extend the range and quality of the services we can offer together.  We are creating the Growth Hub in response to the needs of the business community, with the ambition of achieving a step-change in the quality, relevance and responsiveness of the support we offer, encouraging innovation and enterprise, nurturing skills, creating a pool of talent, and applying knowledge and research to support business success.”

Dr Diane Savory OBE DL, Chair, GFirst LEP, adds: “Gloucestershire boasts many exceptional, high-performance companies and the vision of the Growth Hub will be to help these firms and new start-ups with potential for growth to become even more competitive on the world stage. Particular focus will be given to accelerating knowledge-intensive companies and those with high growth potential, helping to turn them into world class companies that will act as a catalyst for a step-change in driving real growth in the county.”

“The vision for the Growth Hub has been developed from extensive stakeholder feedback from the Gloucestershire business community.  We are delighted that it has support from local employers of all sizes and backgrounds including Versarien, SuperGroup, Barclays Bank, Cheltenham Festivals, Green Gourmet, Severn Controls, Cloud 20 20, Gloucestershire Airport, Roberts Limbrick, Hazlewoods and Moog. It is a flagship project for our strategic plan for economic growth in Gloucestershire, because we are confident that it will make a real difference in achieving the county’s potential as a great place to start up and grow a successful business.”

Delivering services from a base in Gloucester from Autumn 2014, the plans for the Growth Hub include the creation of a network of resource centres across the county using existing facilities and the development of an online business portal. This combined approach of online resources and face to face delivery of services will offer a range of business services to include one-to-one consultations, access to business research and consultancy support, and skills placement programmes including work experience and apprenticeships.

The Growth Hub is a crucial element of the LEP’s work to help cultivate world-class companies across the county, driving economic prosperity, job creation and a reputation for business excellence. It will help generate GVA growth in Gloucestershire as part of the LEP’s Strategic Growth Plan and Growing Gloucestershire campaign.

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