BIG 2, a £3.6 million ERDF investment fund in Cornish businesses comes to a close
The Business Investment for Growth Fund (BIG 2) has successfully come to a close. The fund, which has been investing in ambitious businesses across Cornwall since it started in 2016, has benefitted from a £3.6 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and additional contributions from the companies involved, to generate an overall investment in the Cornish Economy that is set to exceed £8 million by the end of this year.
The results show a significant success for the programme. The fund has been distributed to a wide variety of business sectors, business sizes and geographic locations across Cornwall. Over 170 businesses in total will benefit from the fund, some of those being completely new to applying for this type of funding within Cornwall. It is expected that the programme will also hit its job creation target of over 300 jobs created in the 3 year project lifespan.
Programme manager, Anna Staevska, explains: “We are delighted that we have had such a positive impact into the economic and business future of Cornwall. The diversity of businesses this time around has been a key step forward. We have worked with partners across Cornwall to simplify the application process and help businesses apply for funding. This collaborative approach has seen increased quality of applications and has allowed new businesses to be involved for the first time. Over the years we met great local businesses with innovative products and ambitious plans and we are very proud that we were able to help them grow.”
The programme’s objectives ensure that the fund goes to businesses that can attract customers and income from outside of Cornwall and many are exporting worldwide. The fund has enabled businesses to buy start-up essentials, through to large scale manufacturing equipment. For many businesses the fund has enabled the development of new products and services, accelerated growth and opened up imaginative project opportunities.
Lucy Cox, one of the founders of Halto, recently seen on BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den, says: “When we found out we were going to appear on Dragons’ Den we knew we needed to make the most of the opportunity in terms of our PR strategy in the build up to the airing and afterwards. To achieve this we wanted to work with a marketing agency to ensure we covered as many bases as possible. “By accessing funding from BIG2 we were able to double our marketing budget, allowing us to have a comprehensive strategy covering all elements of social media, print, radio and TV coverage, as well as an ongoing strategy for B2B and B2C engagement. The BIG2 grant has meant we have had an incredible start to the year with new retailers stocking Halto and nationwide coverage, as well as a comprehensive strategy moving forwards.”
The fund has been able to help businesses dealing with some of today’s high profile issues in the environment. Fishy Filaments’ aim is to provide a win-win solution to the fishing community.
Owner Ian Falconer explains: “Fishy Filaments is an awardwinning Cornish start-up working on the cutting edge of sustainability technology, locally recycling used fishing nets into high value consumables for the rapidly growing 3D printing sector. “As the first company of its type globally and with public opinion changing on plastics recycling FFL’s issue, it was not whether a market exists for its products but how best to take advantage of our innovations and reach a global stage.
“With limited independent funds, the investment from BIG2 has allowed us to start bigger and aim higher by freeing capital that would otherwise be tied up in asset purchases. In turn this has allowed us to invest in the people who can turn the business plan into a reality and help Fishy Filaments be part of a new tide of sustainable businesses rising in Cornwall.”
The BIG 2 fund team has been out across Cornwall meeting businesses and applications have come in from a wide geographic spread. The accessibility of the fund has been key facilitated by a team on the road, events, marketing and partnerships and a simple application process through our website has allowed the fund to be visible to those that needed the assistance.
Anna Staevska continues: “Being a friendly and approachable fund has, and remains, very important to us. We wanted to show businesses that grant funding is an opportunity and not a bureaucratic burden. We are a small team and by collaborating with other local stakeholders we have managed to provide a timely and personal service. We would like to thank all those that have helped to spread the word and helped businesses with their applications. The world is moving to a more collaborative way of working and we are proud that has worked for us and the businesses.”
Other key results achieved from the fund have been the introduction of new products and services within the businesses themselves some of which have also been new to the market. Additionally, increases in productivity, financial understanding of planning and growth plans are also an organic result of the funding.
Softer impacts from the fund have seen an increase in confidence to grow businesses and a growth in the personal roles of those within the business allowing them to work at an enhanced level of planning and to become better leaders.
For more information on the BIG 2 Fund visit www.businessinvestmentforgrowth.co.uk