Cheshire and Warrington is one of 10 local enterprise partnerships across the Northern Powerhouse, a prime area for businesses to locate and thrive with a diversified and internationally-oriented economy.
Maven caught up with Andy Devaney, Director of Business Innovation, Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership to help local businesses understand the opportunities available when starting and growing a business in the area.
With a major economy and a large cohort of world-leading firms, Cheshire and Warrington is private sector-led, knowledge-rich and one of the strongest and best performing economies in England. Local businesses such as cloud-based accounting and payroll software, My Digital Accounts and leading energy services business, Aberla are already benefitting from NPIF - Maven Equity Finance to support business growth and create jobs across the region.
In Maven’s latest blog, Andy Devaney, Director of Business Innovation, highlights the opportunities for local businesses and how to access the bespoke and tailored advice for SMEs across Cheshire and Warrington.
- Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself – what does the Cheshire and Warrington Growth and Skills Hub do and what’s involved in your role?
I am the Director of Business Innovation at Cheshire and Warrington LEP, which among other things gives me responsibility of our Growth and Skills Hub as well as overseeing Inward Investment and ensuring a close relationship with the Policy and Strategy elements of the LEP. I’m almost a full year into the role having worked in Liverpool before where I led on Business Growth. Cheshire and Warrington Growth and Skills Hub works with businesses across the sub-region to help them grow. We link in with over 200 partners also to help businesses get the right support they need depending on where they are in their growth journey. Our support is open to all businesses and we support them with a range of support including skills, finance, innovation and exporting. The most important thing is that we will work hard with a business to make sure they can access the most appropriate support for them at the right time.
- Since the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund launched in 2017 what is the biggest change you’ve seen amongst Cheshire and Warrington’s business community?
I think the biggest changes I’ve seen is businesses appetite to take risks and innovate. I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas who have taken the leap to start their own business or launch a new product, which is really exciting. A vital part of turning ideas into reality, is obviously finance, so I think NPIF is definitely helping businesses take the next step with their ideas
- What would you say to a business that is put off by taking on investment and would prefer to grow their business organically?
Every business and business owner is different and investment is key but there are a whole range of steps to go through beforehand, that is where Growth Hubs are vital. We can work with a business to help them understand and map out a clear growth plan and to become investment ready and that can be as much about the individual as the product. Rushing into the wrong type of investment can do harm so we are lucky to have expertise to help businesses and strong and experienced fund managers delivering NPIF who will always put the business first.
- What do you think are the main obstacles to accessing finance that local businesses face today?
Business owners, particularly SMEs can sometimes struggle to find time to develop a long-term strategy for their business, so when they are looking for finance it can be difficult to access the finance needed without showing a detailed plan. Strategy can help inform business decisions over the next 1,3 and 5 years and is vital when trying to access finance. Another obstacle is that the financial landscape can be complex to navigate, especially if it’s the first time a business is looking for finance since starting-up. Again, this is the strength of the Growth Hub model as we can help businesses navigate and understand the different financial options available to them including NPIF.
- As a growing business in Cheshire and Warrington, where should you start your funding journey?
I would always say come and speak to us at the Growth and Skills Hub, but it is important to understand your business, product and market. Investment is hugely important, but timing is key. It’s essential before looking at what funding is available, to understand what the funding is for. It’s not enough to just say you want to grow your business, you need to be prepared to show how you will grow your business with the funding, if it will be employing a sales manager, developing your current team or buying a new piece of machinery and how this will grow your business, whether that’s more leads or entering new markets. There are a lot of potential options from the bank to NPIF and lots in between so it’s important to do your research or come and speak to us and we will help you with that too!
- What is the one thing local entrepreneurs might not know about the Cheshire and Warrington Growth and Skills Hub?
The Growth and Skills Hub exists only to grow the Cheshire and Warrington economy and is set up to support business growth. We can help you understand your needs, identify barriers to your growth and help to remove them. The Growth and Skills Hub is a part of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP and that gives us a unique position to bring together economic strategy and business support and make sure everything is pulling in the same direction. For further information about the Cheshire and Warrington Growth and Skills Hub please visit candwgrowthhub.co.uk.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
If your business is in need of finance to help unlock its growth potential, NPIF Maven Equity Finance may be able to help. Contact Maven’s local team today on 0161 233 3500.
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