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New Hub will help Gloucestershire businesses grow

By BHawes  |  Posted: April 09, 2014

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Unlocking business growth is the key message from The Growth Hub when it goes live this September at the University of Gloucestershire's Oxstalls Campus in Gloucester.

Taking shape with the development of key business support services and an online portal, The Growth Hub will act as a single point of contact for over 26,000 businesses and new start-ups across the county.

Made possible thanks to £7million of funding including Government support, The Growth Hub is a partnership between the University of Gloucestershire and GFirst LEP created to enable businesses in Gloucestershire to maximise their true growth potential.

Laura Crabb, business development director at the University of Gloucestershire, said: "The Growth Hub is an ambitious project, but it really is something different for Gloucestershire's businesses.

"The important stage now is to ensure our services are right for the business community and to build on the great work that the university is already doing with business."

The Growth Hub is aimed at helping ambitious business people realise their growth potential by offering access to a range of practical services, from assessing growth options to unlocking finance or accessing experienced business mentors.

As David Owen, chief executive of GFirst LEP, commented: "The Growth Hub is going to be great for every business in the county. It isn't going to take over all services to business; it will be a network to reach the right support and a marketplace for businesses to reach new customers. It's about making business support simpler and more engaging. And it's about promoting growth and improving the economic performance of the entire county." Call out box: Free diagnosis of what your business needs

The Growth Hub will be open to all businesses across Gloucestershire with tailored support available for businesses that have high growth potential. The starting point at The Growth Hub, and its most important service, is a free and expert business diagnosis. A dedicated team of business advisors will be able to identify high growth potential businesses for specific targeted support, and help businesses to access existing services provided locally and nationally.

 Following the launch event in December last year, which attracted over 200 people from the business community, much progress has been made to establish the services of The Growth Hub and lay the foundations for the centre to be based at Oxstalls campus in Gloucester. Oxstalls will also be the home for the co-location of GFirst LEP and the Business Development team of the University of Gloucestershire.

The Growth Hub is one of the priority initiatives outlined in the Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) developed by GFirst LEP in consultation with the business community, public sector and voluntary sector to accelerate economic growth throughout the county.

Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair of GFirst LEP, said: "The Growth Hub is an integral part of fulfilling the aims of our Strategic Economic Plan for Gloucestershire. It is of strategic significance and joins up the business community and the educational sector to work together for a common aim and represents a huge opportunity for driving business growth throughout the county."

Adding to this, Stephen Marston, the vice chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, said: "We are absolutely committed to The Growth Hub and the university is totally behind the need to promote and support business throughout Gloucestershire.

"This is something that is really important; much of the growth we want in Gloucestershire is high skilled, high knowledge intensive, high value adding, and The Growth Hub will really enable those companies with the highest growth potential to achieve that potential.

The Growth Hub will also be great for the university. We want our business school, our staff and our students to be right in there working with businesses.

 That's great for students. It gives them work experience opportunities, placements and a real insight into business. It also works well for businesses and this is a true win-win situation."

David Owen continued: "This gives us a real focus for businesses in Gloucestershire that want to grow and it is the first example of a Local Enterprise Partnership and the local university working together to drive growth whereby both partners are committed to investing money and support to grow businesses and skills right across the county.

 "The Growth Hub is not just for here and now. It is about creating the next generation of talent and entrepreneurs to grow the next best thing to be born in Gloucestershire in terms of products and services. Gloucestershire is already a county for world-class companies and global brands and we want to ensure we continue this success story."

  For more information about The Growth Hub and its services, please visit www.theGrowthHub.biz

 CASE STUDIES

Access to funding to grow your business

Snow Business, world-leaders in the creation of artificial snow, worked with the University to access subsidised academic research support from the School of Computing and Technology. The research project helped to develop new technology to remotely monitor snow machines all over the world.

Paul Denney, Head of Research and Development, at the Nailsworth-based company, explains: "The School of Computing has access to knowledge and experience that we just don't have. For us to have developed that knowledge in house would have cost us a substantial amount of time and money. By partnering with the University we have been able to accelerate our research and development project dramatically."

Exchanging knowledge and experience

7 Layer Solutions is a dedicated systems house specialising in software applications projects for the cash logistics sector. Director of Development, Phillip Ball, said the company had benefited from a wide range of support from the University including access to research funding and high quality graduates for specific projects. They have also returned the favour offering student placements for three years.

"We have recently had a student on work placement who will be returning to work with us on a full-time basis when he graduates. As well as providing students with experience it's also very useful for us to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at the work that we do."

Phillip Ball and Managing Director Lee Maisner attended the launch of the Growth Hub at the university's Oxstalls campus in December. "I think the intention to bring so many different services together under one roof is a really good idea," said Phillip. "The sentiment of finding business and supporting them is one that I think will be extremely helpful to many businesses in the area, particularly regarding funding. It's really good to hear how other companies can benefit from the Growth Hub and we are looking forward to exploring what it has to offer further."

Retail expert joins the University

Neil Towers will join the University of Gloucestershire this summer as its new Retail Professor. He has 20 years' experience teaching supply chain management in leading universities. He is the editor of the international journal of retail and distribution management. He currently leads the George Davis Centre for Retail Excellence and has forged strong partnerships with business to support teaching. Neil's appointment builds on the LEP's unique role as retail pathfinder for the UK, working with and advising the Government on the retail sector.

Neil Towers explained: "The exciting prospect of the Growth Hub was the main attraction of the role for me. I'm looking forward to working with retailers across the county through the new Hub. I'm passionate about bringing business experience into the classroom and I've done this successfully working with top retailers. These partnerships have big benefits for both businesses and students."

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