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Grant scheme will help firms adapt

Fifty-two companies across Greater Birmingham have been awarded a share of £1.9 million to help adapt their business models in response to the economic impact of Covid-19.   

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Pivot and Prosper Grant Scheme has funded the creation of 149 jobs and a further 499 jobs have been safeguarded across the region.  

The Pivot and Prosper Grant Fund was launched as part of the first phase of the Step Forward campaign – a series of schemes set up to help support businesses in key strategic sectors: advanced manufacturing and engineering; business professional and financial services; creative industries; energy and low carbon; life sciences; and food and drink. 

The scheme enabled businesses to access up to £40,000 match funding each. 

One of the firms that has been helped is Icon Exhibitions in Cannock. The company, which was established 25 years ago, manufactures and installs exhibition stands all over the UK and Europe, but work came to a halt in light of Covid-19.  

Receiving a Pivot and Prosper grant has enabled the company to buy a CNC machine that will create interior fittings for campervans as well as home office construction. 

Wayne Ball, managing director of Icon Exhibitions, said: “We are determined not to let the pandemic beat us and are doing everything we can to secure a long-term future. We have been in Cannock for 25 years and have long-standing expertise in designing, manufacturing and installing exhibition stands.  

“In February, we started to feel the full effects of Covid-19 when the International Hardware Fair was cancelled in Cologne, Germany. Since then we have lost contracts at over 50 shows and events. With no signs of exhibitions being allowed to return we’re now diversifying in order to survive. 

“The Pivot and Prosper Grant is providing us with a lifeline to expand into markets that have seen growth during this pandemic such as campervans and home office furnishings. We are grateful for the assistance that the GBSLEP and its Growth Hub have provided through this grant. In addition, mentoring has been provided to support us in pivoting our business and becoming more resilient.” 

Katie Trout, director of GBSLEP, said: “Our economy has been severely impacted by Covid-19 and we have been determined to play our part in supporting businesses through these unprecedented times. 

“We’ve worked closely with partners across the private, public and academic sectors to develop a suite of interventions to help organisations respond to the challenges created by the pandemic and adapt their working practices, products and business models. 

“I am really pleased that 52 businesses will benefit from £1.9m of grants from our Pivot and Prosper programme. As a result, hundreds of jobs have been created and safeguarded across GBSLEP’s geography. The levels of innovation shown by the successful businesses have been hugely impressive. The exciting projects that this funding will enable are testament to the creativity and resilience of the individuals involved. 

‘This is an incredibly difficult time for businesses across the region and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure we can emerge from Covid-19 to secure inclusive economic growth together. We have more support on the way between now and the end of the year and I encourage businesses to take your step forward with us.” 

GBSLEP and its Growth Hub currently offer independent business support to organisations based within the nine local authority areas it covers: Birmingham, Solihull, East Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Tamworth, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest. 

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