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Business

£1m funding boost to help support Cumbrian SMEs

Ambitious small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across Cumbria have the chance to grow their companies through a specially-designed programme starting this autumn.

The Cumbria Forum, run by Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), will help 90 SMEs in the county as they look to boost the local economy and create jobs.

New funding of £1million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of Cumbria Business Growth Hub, will see LUMS deliver a programme of activity including interactive workshops and master-classes until December 2021.  One of the key elements is a six-month business growth programme to equip delegates with the tools and knowledge needed to drive business growth.

The programme provides a space for owner-managers of Cumbria SMEs to step away from their businesses and develop themselves in a supportive environment with help from peers as well as leading academics from LUMS and business experts.

It draws on key elements of academic research from LUMS into how entrepreneurs learn and grow, and provides a trusted peer-to-peer network and activities to stimulate self-development and business growth.

Ewan Pullan, LUMS Programme Manager for the Cumbria Forum, said: “The programme has already helped dozens of Cumbrian businesses grow and develop, as a result boosting the county’s economy.

“We would encourage small and medium-sized companies from all sectors of the Cumbrian economy to become involved and take advantage of this excellent programme.”

The most recent Cumbria Forum helped 75 businesses, aiding in the creation of 38 new jobs and 18 new products and services, and the next cohort will start in November, fully-funded for ERDF-eligible businesses.

Maria Whitehead MBE, Director and joint-founder of Hawkshead Relish, manufacturers of hand-made relishes, pickles and preserves, have refocused their growth strategy, reshaped the business around a key new appointment, and raised their profile with major customers since participating in the Cumbria Forum.

“We produce both our own brand and private label,” said Maria. “Prior to going on the Forum, I was nervous about the private label side, whether it was the right route for us, for growth. But the Forum, and especially the Business Model Canvas, allowed me to see it in a different way – and now that side is growing faster than anything else.”

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones

Business leaders interested in the next programme can meet the Cumbria Forum team at a special event at North Lakes Hotel and Spa, Penrith, on Tuesday, September 17, starting at 5.30pm. The event includes a master-class talk with Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, a former TV producer/director with the BBC – credited with bringing the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Antony Worrall-Thompson to the screen – who launched The Black Farmer food label inspired by his farm in Devon.

Anyone interested in attending the masterclass on September 17 can register here: https://lums-wilfred-emmanuel-jones.eventbrite.co.uk

For further information on the Cumbria Forum, contact Pete Cornwall on 01524 593679 or email [email protected]

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