HELPING one man’s vision become a reality – the Bridging the Gap fund was ideal for Jonathan Hulls.
The managing director of UK Biofuels, based in Portchester, has seen his business grow from plans on paper into a successful small business.
Jonathan applied for the Bridging the Gap fund, which is backed by The News, after looking online for what help is out there for businesses.
And, in less than a year, the money from Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has seen him purchase all the necessary equipment for his production plant.
‘I always knew what I wanted to do and what I needed for the company,’ said Jonathan.
‘I had seen the equipment but it was just a case of finding the money to buy it.
‘I researched and saw the Bridging the Gap funding and applied. It has really helped move the business along at a much faster pace than what I would have thought.
‘To do it on my own would have taken a lot longer so it has sped things up a bit.’
There is still £800,000 available in the Bridging the Gap fund and time is running out for businesses to apply.
With less than two months to go, Steve Futter, senior account manager for Solent LEP, is encouraging other businesses to apply.
He said that people wanting to start a new project or safeguard their current business should get in touch.
And Jonathan agrees.
He added: ‘I would definitely tell businesses to look into the funding and see if it can help them.
‘It is a great way to kick-start or expand a business.’
UK Biofuels, based at Trafalgar Wharf, in Portchester, is a production plant that supplies customers with sustainable, high-quality and cost-effective biofuels that protect the environment and air quality.
With the £35,000 grant money, Jonathan was able to buy filtration equipment, tanks and a delivery van.
He has also hired a new member of staff to help with the business.
For the year ahead, Jonathan hopes to hire more staff and buy more equipment to move his company forward.
HOW TO APPLY...
HELPING small businesses grow in different ways, the Bridging the Gap fund has already handed out more than £730,000 in grants.
Launched in 2012 by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, along with Portsmouth City Council, The News and the University of Portsmouth, the main focus of the fund is on private sector job creation.
Up to £50,000 can be applied for in grants by entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the best new business and growth proposals.
For businesses ready to start up, funding is available for new projects, help getting a new business up and running and encouraging young entrepreneurs.
Bidders will need to invest 30 per cent of the required funding.
For SMEs, funding is available to help overcome barriers to growth or facilitate business improvement.
Bidders will need to invest at least 50 per cent of the required funding.
More than 15 firms have benefited from the funding and, with the other recent winners, has brought the funding total to just over £732,000.
It has also seen more than 100 jobs created in the region and a total of more than £1.5m brought into the Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant areas.
So, what are you waiting for?