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East Midlands Chamber News

East Midlands Chamber to help create jobs, support digital adoption and accelerate low-carbon transition after securing £5m from Community Renewal Fund

More than 1,000 jobs in the region will be safeguarded and 200 new roles created by the middle of 2022 as part of an East Midlands Accelerator project to be delivered via the Community Renewal Fund (CRF).

The five-strand programme, which will also aim to establish 100 new businesses and support 160 companies to decarbonise, will be led by East Midlands Chamber across seven local authority areas in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire after the region’s leading business representation group successfully bid for £5.36m of the Government’s new £220m fund.

The CRF is the forerunner to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will eventually replace EU structural funds that help to deliver local business support and skills development programmes.

The East Midlands Accelerator, which will be delivered in conjunction with local authorities, universities and other business support services in the region, includes a Race to Zero-Carbon Accelerator, Digital Transformation Accelerator, Start-Up to Scale-Up Accelerator, Kickstart Accelerator and Financial Accelerator.

Diane Beresford, deputy chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, said: “We are delighted our bid has been successful and believe it could have a transformative impact for so many businesses and individuals in the East Midlands.

“The idea is to enhance and improve access to the existing support out there for businesses, particularly those most affected by the pandemic. The East Midlands Accelerator project will look at what the needs are locally and seek to address them with targeted, bespoke support that brings together key stakeholders across the region – with each strand connected by the golden thread of acceleration.

“Many businesses are aware of the need to decarbonise, and want to be greener, but unsure about how to get there. We'll therefore be helping them to make the first big steps towards a sustainable future, enabling them to meet low-carbon targets – while also boosting key skillsets that will help firms grow in a digital world.

“We’re also excited about building on our success in the Kickstart Scheme, having been the UK’s largest and most successful gateway organisation in helping businesses to create more than 1,300 placements in our region.”

What is the East Midlands Accelerator project?

East Midlands Chamber secured 45% of the total £11.8m funding awarded to projects in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

There are four versions of the East Midlands Accelerator project, which will commence in the coming weeks. About £1.5m has been awarded for a programme in Derbyshire covering High Peak and Derbyshire Dales districts, £1m in Leicester city, £1.1m in Nottingham city, and £1.7m in Nottinghamshire covering Mansfield, Bassetlaw, and Newark and Sherwood districts.

It features a range of targets to be achieved by June 2022, including supporting 125 unemployed people and 1,600 employed people via the Kickstart Accelerator.

This will offer work-based modular training and mentoring support to individuals on the Kickstart Scheme – which creates six-month work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment – as well as wage subsidies to convert the roles into permanent jobs. The Chamber hopes this will result in 1,051 jobs being safeguarded and 208 new positions.

The Race to Zero-Carbon Accelerator, which builds on the Chamber’s Sustainable East Midlands initiative, will help 160 businesses to decarbonise via tailored clean growth support including carbon literacy training, environmental accreditation, electric fleet support and sustainable supply chain procurement.

Sustainability audits will also be offered to Nottinghamshire and Leicester SMEs, while a feasibility study is to be carried out for a local district heating network powered by a water-source heat pump in Leicester.

Schemes in the Digital Transformation Accelerator include supporting small firms to implement e-commerce and online booking into their businesses, as well as develop digital skills within organisations.

The Start-Up to Scale-Up Accelerator involves business mentoring for new businesses and an investor readiness programme aimed at potential scale-ups, which aim to create 100 new firms.

Meanwhile, the Financial Accelerator will offer 270 growth vouchers of up to £2,000 for each business to fund consultancy advice supporting growth challenges, new technology or carbon reduction. Another 280 flexible grants worth £8,000 each will be available to back digital adoption, carbon reduction, specialist training, and subsidising wages for Kickstart or graduation retention.

The East Midlands Accelerator programme is designed to complement existing EU-funded projects delivered by the Chamber and other partners, such as the D2N2 Growth Hub, D2N2 Upscaler, Business Gateway Growth Hub and Digital Growth Programme.

In particular, they will seek to accelerate progress in key sectors such as the visitor economy, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, and culture and heritage, as well as BAME-owned businesses.

Project partners include universities and organisations such as The Food and Drink Forum, Nottingham Business Venture, B-Global, Marketing Peak District and Derbyshire, and Leicester Startups CIC.