Ambitious Small Businesses Given Tailored Expertise To Grow

Thirteen projects will share £1.27 million of government funding which has been more than matched by industry for a total investment of £2.69 million. It is expected this will help to sustain and create over 200 jobs, increase skills levels in participating firms and generate increased sales in excess of £7 million.

The projects cover ten different sectors including creative industries, life sciences and manufacturing, and will provide mentors to ambitious company bosses in these industries.

Launching the Mentor Challenge Fund in Gloucester, the Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

“Growing a business is hard work and we want to do everything we can to support ambitious entrepreneurs. The best source of advice for businesses comes from others in their field who have been through it and can offer practical, trusted advice.

“As well as ensuring these businesses receive sector specific mentoring, we hope this raises the profile of how valuable this kind of help can be.”

Research shows that small and medium-sized businesses looking to grow, particularly in the manufacturing sector, want mentoring from a peer with direct experience of their particular sector. The Mentor Challenge Fund aims to meet this need.

On average, the projects will offer businesses 20 to 24 hours of annual direct advice, although the individual schemes vary to meet demand.

The successful projects are:

  • Somerset Chamber of Commerce – Hinkley Supplier Enabling Programme (nuclear sector). Awarded £134,000, total project funding £310,500
  • Creative England – Creative Business Mentors. Awarded £131,780, total project funding £308,888
  • Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) – Get Mentoring (For Agriculture and Farming). Awarded £150,000, total project funding £306,422
  • Rail Alliance – Rail Sector small and medium-sized business supply Chain Mentoring. Awarded £150,000, total project funding £305,000
  • Economic Solutions and Stevenage Bioscience catalyst (biomedical and life sciences sectors) jointly awarded £150,000, total project funding £300,000
  • WSX Enterprise – Air, land and sea mentoring challenge. Awarded £146,250, total project funding £292,500
  • British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) – ED technology small and medium-sized business mentoring Scheme (education sector). Awarded £99,000, total project funding £212,050
  • Allen Env Solutions Ltd – Low Carbon Sector Mentoring. Awarded £100,000, total project funding £212,000
  • Economic Solutions Ltd – Mentor Tex (textiles sector). Awarded £77,500, total project funding £155,000
  • Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership – Northamptonshire High Performance Technology Mentoring Programme (automotive, aerospace, low carbon, defence sectors). Awarded £44,000, total project funding £88,000
  • Tree Shepherd – Tree Shepherd Food, Hospitality and Crafts Sector-Specific Mentor Matching Programme for small and medium-sized businesses in Lambeth. Awarded £24,000, total project funding £74,434
  • National Composites Centre – Composites small and medium-sized business Mentoring Programme. Awarded £35,500, total project funding £71,000
  • Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce – Staffordshire Ceramics and Manufacturing Academy Mentoring. Awarded £27,826, total project funding £55,654