Essential business support worth up to £13.4 million is available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Dorset under a comprehensive scheme launching this week.
The Dorset Business Growth Partnership is designed to help any county-based SME become more competitive in the market. Dedicated strands of activity will include pre-start and start-up support and improving companies’ digital capabilities, management and leadership skills and scope for internationalisation. Access to finance will be delivered through grants and loans alongside advice, mentoring, training and events.
The three-year SME Competitiveness programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is led by WSX Enterprise and the Dorset Growth Hub with a range of support partners.
Programme & Partnership Manager Lucy Cooper said: “We’ve done a great deal of planning to put this highly integrated programme together, based on what companies and entrepreneurs in Dorset have said are the key barriers to growth for them . This is all about creating transformational change and benefits for SMEs in all parts of Dorset, as well as having a foundation on which to build sustainable business support for the future.”
A key feature of the programme is tailored support for specific sectors such as manufacturing, the creative and digital industries, tourism and hospitality, and health and social care.
Well-established business support organisations are involved in delivery as programme partners. They include Dormen, The Arts Development Company, Silicon South, YTKO and Bournemouth University.
The programme has the backing of local authorities across the county while the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is acting as a strategic partner. Bournemouth Borough Council is the accountable body for the programme.
Launch events for project partners in the east and west of the county have been held this week – at West Dorset District Council’s South Walks House in Dorchester and AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
Following launch, the Dorset Growth Hub and partners will work together to highlight the programme to eligible SMEs.
For more details and information on eligibility, visit www.dorsetgrowthhub.co.uk.