Accelerate – A Programme of Business Support for North Somerset
12th December 2022
Launched at the beginning of 2022, ‘Accelerate – Supporting Business in North Somerset’ offered a comprehensive programme of free, targeted business and skills support for businesses and residents across North Somerset.
Led by North Somerset Council’s Economy Team, the Accelerate Programme drew on the expertise of four established delivery partners across the region: North Somerset Council, Weston College, the hive, and The Food and Drink Forum.
Businesses were offered a choice of flexible support that included community leadership programmes, 1-1 business outreach support, a business voucher scheme, technical advice for food and drink businesses, and a series of 61 dedicated skills and business workshops.
North Somerset Council’s Economy Team coordinated a Business Voucher Scheme to fund professional business support up to a value of £2500 to help businesses to overcome specific challenges to help them grow, innovate, and become more resilient. Businesses were able to identify and select their own supplier of choice to allow for maximum flexibility at a time and place suitable to them. 77 local suppliers were used to deliver support, which enabled a huge degree of expertise to be drawn upon from across the district. This included legal and financial support as well as targeted advice on intellectual property and marketing.
The Business Voucher Scheme proved to be exceedingly popular. Supporting 117 businesses throughout North Somerset, it achieved some remarkable outcomes such as helping to start 9 new businesses, introduced 121 new products and processes, and safeguarded 372 jobs.
The positive feedback from the vouchers has also been astounding, with many small businesses explaining the impact the support had on their business and their future.
Jon Gibbons from As It Should Be Ltd said, “Funding has always seemed hard to come by for business development for SMEs that want to stay small but can have big impact. I’m so happy to feel like this has been changing in recent years. Things have often felt hand-to-mouth for me, and opportunity to develop my business has seemed limited. When you’re small, investing in business development comes at the cost of both billable time and what I’m able to pay myself. Thanks to this funding, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a trusted advisor who’s built their own business up to help create a strategy and financial forecast to achieve more and begin to take on employees.”
Ros Conkie from Ros Conkie Marketing said, “The scheme has been transformational for my business. As a direct result of the support we received, we have increased our turnover by 40% (YTD compared to 2020 and 2021) which has meant I have been able to invest in training for my employee, increase her salary to reflect her additional skills, and I am now planning another recruit, hopefully before the end of the year.”
The flexibility of the support offered through the Business Voucher Scheme, as well as the additional services made available through the wider Accelerate programme, enabled businesses to receive a dynamic response from a network of partners.
While Accelerate has now come to an end, business support across the region is still readily available. Please contact email@example.com to find out more.
North Somerset Council, in partnership with local organisations, received more than £2.8m of government funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund. Accelerate, the Supporting Business in North Somerset programme, is one of four projects that delivered this investment in skills, communities and businesses, and by supporting people into employment. Work took place during the first half of 2022. www.n-somerset.gov.uk/crf