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The First Hurdle!

With the new EU funded Growth Programme scheduled to launch in early 2016, many businesses will be eyeing these programmes and funds with a keen interest in how they will assist their growth aspirations. The new programme will offer many opportunities for the right business, undertaking the right project and able to deliver the right outcomes, but understanding the complexity of eligibility, compliance and commitment to deliver outputs is both complex and confusing to the average Cornish business.

Here at Lang-Bennetts we can offer specialist support in understanding this often complex world and this article looks at the very first hurdle a business faces in securing support i.e. is it even eligible?

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) guidance is fairly prescriptive, but we have yet to meet a business in the real world that has actually read, let alone understood its contents. So assuming you are not a nuclear power station, multi-national global conglomerate or building very large ships, this article is for you!

In layman’s terms there are 3 main areas that you must initially satisfy to be eligible for support:

Firstly, you will need to be trading with the majority of your customer base being regional, national and international. Any business with the majority of its customers being locally based will fall foul of local displacement rules and EU support must avoid distorting local competitiveness. These rules very often rule out immediately retail, tourism, business services, wholesalers, distribution, transport and professional firms.

Secondly, you will need to demonstrate that you have growth aspirations and a solid strategy in how to get there! This is often linked to a strong sense of entrepreneurship and a compelling market opportunity waiting to be exploited. Without this, your business could be technically eligible, but discarded as “non-growth”.

Thirdly, the business must be able to demonstrate that it can create skilled jobs and drive productivity increases that Europe measures via GVA (Gross Value Add), again in simpler terms, these are businesses that can demonstrate a clear need (in their business model) for high skilled and paid jobs, increased capital investment and leveraging greater profits. Again the real world challenge is identifying growth opportunities that are both job creating and more efficient…quite an ask!

So if you can tick these 3 boxes then rest assured you are likely to be 80% eligible, why only 80% you might ask? Well we haven’t touched upon SME definitions, non-priority sectors, specific sector support for agriculture, fishing, rural businesses and communities, the de minimis threshold and the fine detail contained with the ERDF guidance handbook!

Fortunately, if this has left you cold, there are a couple of easy options to assess your eligibility:

We would encourage you to register your details with the new LEP Growth Hub, this web portal will be the single gateway into the new programme and taking 5 minutes to register online will provide them with enough information to assess you. The link is:

Finally, contact our funding specialist direct to discuss any specific eligibility queries. Our specialist has 20 year’s experience of ERDF programme delivery and management and is available to chat through any funding related issues.