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Hundreds of businesses helped to grow

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub has been celebrating its first anniversary helping people find the right support to turn their business idea into a reality, or to take their existing business to the next level of growth.

Since its launch during Business Week last year, the Growth Hub has welcomed nearly 2,500 businesses through its virtual doors and is working directly with over 700 on their plans to grow.  One of the main aims was to have a truly client led service shaped by local businesses so, taking an agile approach, the project launched with a minimum viable product and has continued to develop their systems and processes in response to client feedback.

Mik Weir from Halo Designs in Roche, who design and develop accommodation Pods and Shepherd’s Huts, found the process very simple. “It was a painless and easy conversation; the support came online really quickly and it will make a big difference to us.” 

The support Halo were signposted to included funding opportunities for the purchase of equipment which will enable them to grow and take on staff.

Not only do businesses meet with a Connector, who offers an independent and impartial review and help to identify the right support from a wide variety of opportunities, but Growth Hub members also have access to a range of tools and promotional opportunities through the ever-evolving website.

This approach has proven successful, with a 5 out of 5 client satisfaction rating for the service and a website that welcomes thousands of visitors a month. 

Paralympian Peter Norfolk set up EPC Wheelchairs in 1989 following a motorcycle accident which resulted in Peter using a wheelchair. He was inspired to take up Wheelchair Tennis after seeing it in action at the Stoke Mandeville Games. This was also where he had his lightbulb moment for starting the business, seeing the lightweight chairs available to athletes imported from America.

This year Peter and his wife Linda decided to move their head office to Cornwall after testing the waters with a branch of the business in Perranporth. They contacted the Growth Hub and met with Business Connector Matt Borne, who put them in contact with high growth coaching, support for export and making the most of their IT strategy.

Linda said “He was a source of great information, very practical, and has signposted us to the services we need right now.

It has allowed me to gain a huge amount of confidence, with mentoring to help manage a major change and business growth in a relatively short space of time. Just by signposting, meeting people and communicating we have realised that there is a whole lot more that we can do and there is help to do it quicker than we would have done on our own.”

However, the Growth Hub team haven’t waited for businesses to come to them.  From Saltash to St Ives, they have ‘taken over’ towns up and down the county offering free business breakfasts and workshops, and speaking to businesses door to door about the support on offer.

Neil from Neil Cox Hypnotherapy came across the Growth Hub at one of the Town Takeovers.  “Since the Town Takeover in Bude I’ve had a business chat with my local Connector. Seeing my business from a different angle provides new ideas and suggestions to investigate and take forward.” 

Since his meeting with Richard Scutt, Neil has been referred to several support opportunities including a review of his digital offer and advice on how to use technology to grow his business.

Part of the Growth Hub’s ethos is about bringing businesses together to help and support each other. Karen Nicholas of 3D Raptor Design in Penzance took part in the debate held in honour of International Women’s Day, to discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by women in business.  Karen had already met with Connector Chris Phillips and, as she had completed a start-up programme, was referred to support to further develop her marketing proposition.

Karen said “It was great to speak openly to the Connector about wins, failures, worries and hopes. During my initial session, it soon became clear where my energies should be focused. It is reassuring as a new business owner to know that there is accessible, local, professional support to help businesses reach their full potential.” 

The Growth Hub is one element of the Strategic Economic Plan, which sets out a vision for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be the place where businesses thrive and people enjoy an outstanding quality of life.

LEP Board Director Sarah Trethowan said “As a business owner I know how time consuming and challenging it is to find the right support I need to help my company thrive. This is why, when I joined the LEP, I was delighted to support and champion the Growth Hub. Finally, we have a single point of contact and access to a free and impartial review to help us identify the right support for our companies. 

The Growth Hub is constantly evolving thanks to feedback from the many businesses already using the service. I urge those who haven't used it yet to do so and those who have to take another look and see what's changed.”

Cornwall Council cabinet member for Planning and Economy Bob Egerton says “The Growth Hub has been an important ERDF investment.  It has been delivered following demand from businesses who requested a support function to help access all the opportunities available to them. 

There is no doubt that running a business is tough, so providing resources to help them improve productivity, growth and job creation is high on our priorities.  We hear excellent feedback from businesses who have worked with the Growth Hub team and are now developing their business.”    

The Growth Hub continues to listen to feedback from businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and skills development has been high on the list of needs.  The hotly anticipated launch of the new Skills Hub project, which will be integrated with the Growth Hub to maintain a single point of access, will mean a full range of support is available to start or grow local businesses.

If you would like to book your free business review then call the Growth Hub team on 01209 708660 and sign up at www.ciosgrowthhub.com.

The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is match funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.  

Page last updated: 14:41, 4th July 2017
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