Swindon and Wiltshire steams ahead, with launch of UK’s first Business Hub
The first of 15 growth hubs as part of a Government programme designed to promote economic and regional growth across England has been launched in Wiltshire.
The Wiltshire Business Hub was launched last week at special events held in Warminster and Swindon.
It marked a significant landmark for the £32 million Wave 2 Growth Hub (W2GH) Programme, led by Lancaster University.
The aim of the hub is to connect knowledge, funders, business support and the industry simply and easily by bringing disparate information into one place for businesses in the Swindon and Wiltshire area.
Isobel Brown, Director of the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership welcomed the innovative approach to business development services in the area.
“It is great to have a single point of reference for our SMEs to go to for business advice and support and the availability of grant funding is an added bonus,” she said.
Rob Perks, Chief Executive of Wessex Chambers, said: “The funding from Lancaster University has enabled us to deliver, and build on, the existing support available.
“In a study conducted last year, in which we asked local businesses what they found the main issues to be in accessing support, the biggest problem they experienced was that there were too many places to go, that they didn’t know where to find the information, and they wanted somebody to bring it all together.
“So, following the launch of this hub, we’ve now got one place where businesses can access all the support they need, which should make a big difference towards helping our business community.”
Funded by the Regional Growth Fund, the W2GH Programme will support cities in creating a growth hub for their area to promote economic prosperity and to work with local businesses, providing them with access to a national network of resources.
There were only four regional growth hubs in the UK prior to the W2GH Programme. Lancaster University is leading efforts to raise that figure to 19 by overseeing the creation of an additional 15 hubs in cities such as Hull, Bournemouth, Stoke, Reading and Milton Keynes.
Dr Amy Gibbons, W2GH Programme Manager at Lancaster University, said: “The launch was a significant landmark in our programme and is just the first step towards Lancaster University helping to drive economic growth in 15 cities right across England.
“It was really pleasing to hear how the funding we are providing has helped to build on, and bring together, existing support and advice services in the Wiltshire area.
“The Hub will be a crucial space for businesses, where they can engage with regional experts to help them to grow and create new jobs.”
Lancaster University, which was named as a top-ten university for SME engagement in the recent Witty Review, successfully bid to run this Regional Growth Fund programme due to the Management School’s long-standing reputation for innovative support to business, and also because of the university’s experience and expertise in successfully managing European Funding programmes across the UK.
The Wiltshire Hub can be accessed at http://wiltshirebusinesshub.co.uk