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Lancashire companies seeking funding to fast-track their growth are being advised to visit a new funding hub which has been launched by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Phase one of the new Lancashire Funding Hub is now live, providing Lancashire business leaders, finance directors, chief finance officers and board members with information about a variety of funding options.

It also includes insight from funding experts as well as business owners and managers who have been on their own funding journey.

The hub is designed to provide a single-entry point so people running businesses in Lancashire can better understand their options for external finance. It is in response to a report commissioned by the LEP and conducted by economic and social research consultancy EKOS about Lancashire companies’ use of external finance.

Lancashire Funding Hub can be found on the Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub website and includes both debt and equity finance such as Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growing Places Fund, Innovate UK funding, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Rosebud Finance.

The hub will also feature inspirational content including Q&As from well-known funding providers in Lancashire and companies from across the county that have grown successfully using external finance.

County Councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, Lancashire County Council, said: “Ambitious Lancashire businesses have access to a huge range of debt and equity finance as well as high-quality funded support to help them understand the business finance landscape.

“However, many Lancashire companies are not accessing this support. The work of the LEP and EKOS had identified a need for an informational portal to better connect Lancashire businesses with the available options and Lancashire Funding Hub is a direct response to this recommendation.

“It will improve our county’s overall finance ecosystem, presenting more companies with the opportunity and ambition to grow at pace in Lancashire using external finance support.”

Debbie Francis, chair, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “By better connecting Lancashire’s funding community with businesses, we will not only inspire more homegrown companies to use external funding to grow, we will also enhance Lancashire’s economic offer to wider audiences. For example, the Funding Hub will help Lancashire create a stronger proposition for foreign owned companies who want to base themselves here and expand.

“In addition, it will allow us to promote LEP initiatives such as the £20m Growing Places Fund and encourage startups and scaleups from a variety of sectors to explore the wide range of funding pathways which are available through our partners.”

VS Group is a Manchester-headquartered telecommunications business which utilised a loan from Rosebud in 2018 to open its base in Barrowford, Lancashire. This has now become the company’s main operational base.

The company has also used Northern Powerhouse Investment Funds (NPIF) on a number of occasions to support its expansion, and now has additional offices in Newcastle and London. It is also considering further external funding to support its growth in Lancashire.

Kevin Penman, managing director, said: “Trying to find funding to support your company’s growth can be a lonely and daunting place. When we were first looking for external funding, we found our bank was not supportive and, initially, we simply did not know about the other funds which existed.

“There are a lot of different finance options available but there just isn’t enough knowledge out there in the business community about these providers and how to access them.

“We used our own research to understand Rosebud, which allowed us to move into Lancashire, and also NPIF which has supported us throughout our growth journey – a centralised portal like the Lancashire Funding Hub would have made that research process much easier.”

Businesses can find the hub on the Boost website here: https://www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk/business-support/lancashire-funding-hub/

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