A total of 409 UK businesses have collectively bid for £2.68 billion of funding during the Regional Growth Fund’s third outing, and will now compete for the £1 billion available.
The proposals will now be assessed by the Independent Advisory Panel, which is chaired by Lord Heseltine, over the summer period. As part of the process the Panel will make recommendations to a Ministerial Group, led by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and final decisions on funding will then be made.
A regional breakdown of the new proposals shows that the North West area led the way in bids, with a 13 per cent share of funding requests. The West Midlands is looking to secure 15 per cent of the funding from fewer bids, the highest percentage in the UK.
Clegg comments, ‘[Some] £1.4 billion has already been allocated to 176 businesses, which are expected to create and protect up to 328,000 jobs. So far 96 of these businesses have started accessing their funding, and many projects have started their projects while they wait for a final offer.’
The third round of the Regional Growth Fund was launched back in February 2012 when Clegg called on the manufacturing sector to bid for extra growth finance.
Back then the government confirmed that 48 of the successful companies from the first two founds of the fund had completed legal checks and then had access to the government capital.
A number of roadshows have proceeded the closing of the round, aimed at providing potential bidders with an opportunity to find out more.
Mark Prisk, business and enterprise minister, adds, ‘Despite the uncertainty in the financial markets concerning the Eurozone, the Regional Growth Fund has still recorded over 400 bids from a range of projects.
‘Initial indications show that round three bids could deliver similar levels of private sector leverage to previous rounds, approximately £6 for every £1 of taxpayers’ money.’
Success stories of the Regional Growth Fund include investment vehicle Angel CoFund, created using a grant from the Fund. In May the Angel CoFund made its first five commitments.