SMALL companies that ensure the ships of the Royal Navy stay afloat are being invited to share a huge grant.
The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, Portsmouth City Council and BAE Systems have joined together to offer a £4.7m fund for those firms which are part of the BAE Systems Maritime Services supply chain in the Solent area.
Its aim is to safeguard jobs as well as creating new ones, and ensure that when the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, and potentially the new Type 26 Frigates are based in Portsmouth, the skills and infrastructure are in place to support them.
The Solent Futures fund was unveiled at BAE Systems Maritime Services headquarters at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday.
Rory Fisher, the firm’s managing director, who is also a new member of the LEP board, said: ‘Today is a fantastic example of how a business like BAE can work with Portsmouth City Council and the Solent LEP to secure funding for other businesses in the community we serve.’
Jeremy Rigby, commander of Portsmouth Naval Base, added: ‘This is a great opportunity to get as resilient a supply chain as we can as close to where we work as possible.
‘The Royal Navy will be in Portsmouth for at least the next 50 years.
‘By the end of this decade the tonnage of ships here in the naval base will be doubling. That means there will be a huge demand placed on our industrial partners to have a modern supply chain in place.’
According to research carried out by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, the navy’s activities in Portsmouth support around 20,000 jobs both in and outside the naval base.
Companies have been invited to apply for a share in the grant, with pots of between £10,000 and £300,000 being given away.
However, those firms applying will have to generate 80 per cent more in private financing to qualify.
LEP chief executive Anne-Marie Mountifield said: ‘We want to give these grants away as quickly as possible.’
Firms have until September 27 to apply in the first round, or until November 15 in the second. A conference giving guidance on applying will be held at BAE Systems on September 17. Email email@example.com for more information.
SOLENT FUTURES FUNDING IS PART OF £12M LEP POT
THERE are around 100 businesses which directly work with BAE Systems on navy ships, and countless other contractors besides.
This means the £4.7m Solent Futures grant will benefit a huge chunk of firms in this area, protecting jobs and ensuring the Portsmouth region has the most skilled engineers and the best technology.
The Solent LEP is the only local enterprise partnership in the south east which hands out grants.
As well as the Solent Futures grant, it is also handing out £2.1m to start-up and fledgling businesses in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant as part of its Bridging the Gap fund.
It also has a £5.4m Growing Places fund to give firms which want to improve the region’s infrastructure.
That means around £12m is being given out in grants to local businesses, with millions more being attracted in private investment into the schemes.
Solent LEP chairman Doug Morrison said: ‘We should feel rightly proud that in today’s difficult economic circumstances we have been successful in getting this money for small and medium-sized businesses from the government.’