The England 2014-20 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth programme launched 20 March and will provide Worcestershire with £1.3million in PA1 Innovation funds, £1.75million over the next three years through PA3 SME Competitiveness funds, £1.3million in PA4 Low Carbon funds and £300,000 from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
The ESIF programmes’ key objectives focus on improving local area priorities, including: research and innovation, supporting small and medium size enterprises, creating a low carbon economy, increasing labour market participation, promoting social inclusion, developing people’s skills, supporting micro and small rural businesses, investing in small scale renewable and broadband investments, and supporting tourism activities.
Department for Local Communities and Government have launched the programme having reached agreement with the European Commission after detailed negotiations on the major points of principle in all areas. The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Operational Programme was approved by the European Commission in February and the first calls under this programme are now open.
|Priority Axis||Indicative Budget – Whole Programme||Focus of First Call||Indicative Allocation/Budgets||gov.uk Link|
|PA1 Innovation||£5m||Proof of Concept Fund (Catalyst to drive innovation of products and SMEs)||£1.3m|
|PA3 SME Competitiveness||£15.2m||UKTI (Food/Defence and Security International Trade Advisors for Business Growth Service);Growth Accelerator (Leadership and Management)||£1.25m (3 Years)£0.5m (2 Years)
|PA4 Low Carbon||£6.1m||Resource Efficiency Programme (Promoting Energy Efficiency in SMEs)||£1.3m||http://bit.ly/18T5Lb8|
|Technical Assistance (National Call)||Up to 2% of ERDF & ESF Technical Assistance||Project Development, Capacity-building, fund promotion, Sustainable Urban Development (ERDF only)||http://bit.ly/1BnzgZE|
|EAFRD||£2.3m||Horticulture Expansion Fund||£300k||http://bit.ly/1xrVAWS|
A total value of up to £300,000 of funding has been made available for Worcestershire businesses via the EAFRD. As of 23 March 2015, EAFRD funding has been made available to businesses that propose projects which will contribute strongly to growth in the horticulture sector, with the opportunity to receive grants from £35,000 up to approximately £100,000.
Applicants must be Worcestershire-based horticulture owners and businesses who are able to demonstrate that their project proposal would not occur without grant funding. Priority will be given to projects which invest in equipment to support growth and accelerate the adoption of new technology to improve productivity in the sector.
Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is one of five LEPs to utilise EAFRD funding. By providing EAFRD investment support for new and expanding businesses, the Worcestershire LEP wants to see an increase in rural jobs, particularly in higher-paid, more highly-skilled jobs; and in Gross Value Added to the rural economy.
George Eustice, Environment Minister said: “The rural economy is hugely important to this country and we are committed to boosting enterprise across our countryside by encouraging growth, creating jobs and supporting our long term economic plan. It is great news that the RDPE Growth Programme is opening – providing key funding to help rural businesses thrive.”
All applications must provide 50 per cent match funding from either the public or private sector. Calls will be open until 19 June.