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Heart of South West LEP awards almost £190k to local businesses as second round of grant scheme is announced

Two companies based in the heart of the south west area have secured almost £190k between them from an inward investment fund launched by the HotSW LEP last autumn.

The HotSW LEP ERDF Inward Investment Support Grant Scheme is a £900k fund* designed to boost economic recovery and create new jobs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. The grants of between £25k-£150k, which require match funding, are for foreign-owned businesses based in the region who are looking to grow, and seeking investment in equipment, infrastructure or new technologies. The LEP will shortly be reopening the scheme for further funding applications.

The first two companies to successfully secure grants from the fund are EFFECT Photonics and Vexcolt.

EFFECT Photonics, a global photonics technology company that developed as a spin-out from the prestigious Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, has been awarded the maximum amount of £150k from the fund, which it will use for further expansion to their production facilities, creating at least 70 new jobs.

Since 2015, EFFECT Photonics has had a base at the University of Plymouth’s Brixham Laboratory. Brixham is conveniently situated to provide access to the resources used by the well-established hi-tech cluster of companies and expertise locally based there.

EFFECT Photonics COO, Paul Rosser, said: “This investment comes at a crucial time, enabling us to grow the team in Devon, build capacity to service increasing demand and continue to innovate. We are entering an exciting period, bringing a genuinely value-adding product to a sector that is seeing huge growth as the rollout of 5G accelerates.”

The second grant award has gone to Vexcolt (UK) Ltd, a leading manufacturer of specialist products for the construction industry. They have secured £37k to support their expansion plans, which will see them increasing capacity and reorganising the production facility to improve quality and delivery performance.

The SME, which is based in South Brent, will use the grant to automate manual fabrication processes, create new specialist products and create a number of new jobs.

Susan Wolfe, managing director, Vexcolt, said: “We welcome the HotSW LEP funding for Vexcolt, which has seen a sales growth of 23 per cent in the past year. This growth has stretched our productive capacity and we are now manufacturing more complex products. This additional funding will really help the company not only expand but to compete in both UK and International markets.

“We have recently created three new jobs and we hope to create another three new skilled jobs over the next two years as part of this expansion.”

Following its successful first round of applications, the HotSW LEP is reopening the fund for further applications on June 1st. Businesses will have until September 10th to apply.

Karl Tucker, chair of HotSW LEP, says: “We are really pleased with the quality of the applications we’ve received from the first round of this grant scheme, which has been created to encourage our locally-based foreign-owned businesses to invest here, creating economic growth and new jobs.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what comes through in this second round of funding and I would urge businesses to get in touch with us to see if they are eligible.”

The grant scheme is open to all eligible ERDF sectors, including Aerospace & Advanced Engineering, Agri-tech/Food and Drink, Environmental Futures, and Marine Industries. The grant must support the purchase of new technology or other equipment which will support the business being more productive.

*This funding is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that will support innovation, businesses, create new jobs and local community regenerations.

To find out more or apply for the fund, contact Carla Modley at e.


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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.