UMi helps provide £2.2m in grants to SMEs with The Growth Fund

In a nutshell… 

  • 326 jobs were created in the South of Tyne area as a result of project funding. 
  • 22 businesses were helped by the scheme, with the average grant value being £95.5k. 

UMi was the Delivery Partner for The Growth Fund that provided grant support to SMEs across the South of Tyne region in the North East of England. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the scheme aimed to stimulate sustainable business growth and create jobs.  

The North East is a region with a rich industrial heritage, but also one that faces significant challenges in terms of productivity, innovation, and competitiveness. SMEs play an essential role in the regional economy, however many struggle to access finance for growth - especially for capital investment projects that require upfront costs and long-term returns. 

To address this, The Growth Fund was created to offer grant support to SMEs in South Tyneside, Gateshead, and Sunderland for capital investment projects that could demonstrate potential for growth and job creation.  

The scheme ran from September 2020, coming to an end in August 2023 and was an overall success. It supported many SMEs with both funding and advice, ultimately allowing them to achieve their growth goals, as well as generating wealth for the North East. 

As the appointed Delivery Partner, UMi was responsible for the end-to-end delivery of the grant programme. This spanned from its design to applications, payment, and then beneficiary monitoring. UMi leveraged its vast experience and expertise in grant management, using proven models from previous grant programmes (ERDF and Regional Growth Fund) to ensure compliance, efficiency, and effectiveness. 

The team at UMi was also responsible for demand stimulation. Using a range of marketing techniques, they were able to raise awareness and generate interest among SMEs. A team of project-dedicated field advisers were also deployed, who provided one-to-one support and guidance to SMEs throughout the application process. 

The main offering of the scheme was funding. Over its duration, £2.2m was distributed as grants across 22 businesses – an average value of £95.5k. Most of this support was dealt in the final two quarters, almost doubling the performance up to that point. 

Grants were used on a range of projects; from transforming the orthodontics industry with innovative manufacturing methods to investing in new printing presses to keep up with demand. From the 22 projects, nine were used to introduce new products, highlighting the innovative nature of the firms involved.  

As well as a boost to innovation, there was an increase in job prospects as a result of the fund – with 326 new jobs being generated from projects, and a total of 1415 predicted by the end of 2025. 

Support wasn’t restricted to just grant funding. 170 companies were also given access to information, as well as diagnostic and brokerage support which was available to interested businesses through the scheme. 

All of these outcomes generated by The Growth Fund, supported by the hard work and dedication of all involved, should result in a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £23.12 generated per £1 of ERDF invested by the end of 2025. A direct and positive impact to the regional economy that will be felt by not only the SMEs involved, but businesses of all sizes and the people living in the North East. 

Councillor Malcom Brain, Cabinet Member for Economy, Gateshead Council, said “It’s been very rewarding for Gateshead Council to be part of a grant scheme which delivers funding to ambitious companies in the North East. The impact of the fund is bringing extra business to the region, creating new jobs and allowing SMEs to dream big for the future of their company.” 

Andrew Tate, Enterprise and Industry Manager at Gateshead Council, said “A huge thank you to the UMi team in their role as delivery partner, for the hard work from the point of the SMEs expressing an interest in the fund, through to meeting them for brokerage support, working on the applications, and also in paying the grants initially and supporting with the audit and site visits in the late summer.” 

The Growth Fund Senior Project Manager at UMi, Mike Baker, said: “It’s been a fulfilling time working on The Growth Fund and seeing firsthand how the scheme has impacted businesses in the North East and supported their ambitions.  

“Although this fund has ended, I would encourage any company in Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside or Sunderland with an ambition to grow through a capital investment project to take a look at the Business Growth Fund – a new grant scheme, very similar to The Growth Fund, providing support once again to SMEs in the region. 

“Get in touch with our team by phone: 0191 716 1007, or email:”