Business hub will help firms access grant funding

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BUSINESSES in Hampshire will be able to access a new support service run by the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

The Solent Growth Hub is part of a £2.5m Regional Growth Fund bid, which was won by a consortium headed-up by the University of Portsmouth.

It will help companies and entrepreneurs in the Solent region access grant funding, training and other support.

From February, the service will offer access to helplines and face-to-face advice, mentoring and coaching.

Providers are also being sought for a dedicated online portal, which will include a toolkit of hub resources.

Denise Barlow, Hampshire Chamber’s head of projects, said: ‘It can be tricky to locate the most appropriate sources of business support, whether government or private sector.

‘Solent Growth Hub will act as a central point for small businesses and others to find out everything they need to know about local and national schemes, signposting them to appropriate support and helping them to obtain direct advice.’

Dr Alistair McDermott, director of innovation services at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘In our region, Hampshire Chamber is ideally placed to deliver the service because of its extensive membership and links to other organisations.’

Other consortium members are Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton city councils, Isle of Wight Council, University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and UK Trade & Investment.

Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Seán Woodward, said: ‘If we can facilitate more business growth in the region, we can accelerate job creation and capitalise on the economy emerging from recession.’

Hampshire Chamber will deliver the hub with input from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Business Alliance, a group of private sector support organisations.