Bristol businesses to get more help on road to post-Covid recovery in new WECA campaign

January 28, 2021

A campaign to help Bristol businesses recover from the impact coronavirus by connecting them with essential support and guidance has been launched by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

Called Together West of England, the campaign is part of a plan for a long-term, post-Covid recovery drawn up in partnership with the regional Recovery Taskforce, which brings together businesses, universities and the West of England’s local authorities. 

It includes a new Business Support Guide, which will help businesses navigate the wide range of support on offer through the West of England’s dedicated business support service, the Growth Hub.

It will also give businesses access to the support and guidance they need to adapt, build resilience and prepare for the future, as well as helping individuals gain new skills, training and employment opportunities.

The Business Support Guide contains guidance on everything from business grants to the extensive range of support programmes now available.

Launching Together West of England, regional mayor Tim Bowles, pictured, said: “When we began planning for our region’s recovery, I said that if we worked together we could build on our strengths and seize the opportunity to renew our economy.

“This campaign is about doing just that and working together to put this plan into action.

“With the big increase in support for our region’s 45,000 businesses, it can be hard to know where to find the support that’s right for them. 

“That’s why we have our Growth Hub to help answer those questions, and this new Business Support Guide will make that job even easier, so they can get back to running their business and creating jobs.

“Our region is famous for our entrepreneurial spirit, and we’re helping those entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses with £100m package of support.

“That way, we not only help new and existing businesses to survive in these uncertain times, but to enable them to thrive into the longer-term, securing and creating new well-paid jobs in the future.”

Recovery Taskforce member Sammy Payne, co-founder of Bristol tech firm Open Bionics, which makes innovative hi-tech prosthetic limbs for amputees, added: “Our region’s recovery plan is about helping employers and employees – this includes support to develop the digital skills our businesses need, as well as mental health at work.”

Fellow Taskforce member Poku Osei, chief executive of Bristol youth empowerment social enterprise Babbasa, said all the region’s residents would have access to skills and training.

“From providing careers advice in every school to creating more than 22,000 training and work placements, we want everyone to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential,” he said.

The Growth Hub provides SMEs with tailored one-to-one advice and access to finance, support programmes and expert guidance in:

  • Financial & business support
  • Leadership & management
  • Workforce development
  • Technology & innovation

The range of programmes available and detailed in the Business Support Guide include:

  • Trading Better Online – helping businesses improve digital presence
  • Thrive at Work West of England – a free tool to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) support staff with mental health issues.
  • Productivity through People – leadership development programme, designed by Bath University School of Management and Be the business.
  • Intellectual Property support – helping businesses understand the basics of IP and how best to protect it.
  • Accountancy Support – provides SMEs with a free financial check-up and bespoke guidance on effective financial management.
  • Creative Scale Up – helping creative businesses access finance through regional and national investment, also providing intensive business support.
  • Universal Business Support – provides start-ups, small businesses and aspiring business owners with the support, training and resources they need to get set for success.
  • Workforce for the Future – an £8m programme providing free support, training, and tools to help SMEs stabilise or strengthen their businesses.
  • Mentoring for Growth – Rapid Response Mentoring Programme helping SMEs benefit from the expertise and experience found in larger firms.
  • Business Innovation Fund – providing SMEs with tailored support and funding to bring new products, services and processes to market. This includes: Grants between £20-000 – £50,000 to invest in innovation, support and guidance to move from concept to production, collaborate with the region’s leading search institutions, advice on intellectual property, testing and research and development roadmaps.

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