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UK government fund to help South West businesses

UK government

The £3.6million South Internationalisation Fund for small businesses will help 720 businesses in the South West grow their exports

More than 700 South West businesses are to benefit from a £3.6million Government fund to help them grow their overseas sales.

The new Export Growth Plan will also see 12 International Trade Advisors (ITAs) tasked with giving direct support to small businesses in the region.

They are part of a package of measures to help South West businesses recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The £3.6million South Internationalisation Fund for small businesses has been created to help 720 businesses in the South West grow their overseas trading and maximise their profits between 2020-2023.

The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund, with the Government making it available by drawing on contributions made during the UK’s membership of the EU.

And the new South West ITAs will supplement the existing support provided to businesses across the UK and a pilot Export Academy scheme will be introduced to support smaller businesses to start exporting.

It will deliver a series of activities that will build the capabilities of smaller businesses, creating a new cohort of firms ready to trade. It is also helping businesses in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine areas.

Added to this, “sector specialists” will champion the Western Gateway to overseas markets and help drive investment into the region.

And a refreshed cohort of more than 100 additional Export Champions across different industries in England will help promote and support exports.

Graham Stuart MP, Minister for Exports, said: The Government is negotiating trade deals around the world and we are determined to help UK businesses take advantage of the markets we are opening. So, as part of the recovery from coronavirus, I am delighted to announce this funding and support, which will be invaluable to businesses looking to begin or continue their exporting journeys.

He said, in 2019 we overtook France to become the world’s fifth largest exporter and this package is a statement of our confidence in UK companies to grow the UK as an exporting superpower.

The package will ensure businesses are supported from the start, with more funding, more trade advisors and the establishment of the Export Academy to help businesses build back better.

Mike Cherry, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: We welcome these new funds and resources which come at a critical time for small firms who are looking to either expand or begin their trading journeys. It’s vital that these new ITAs are tasked with focusing small and micro businesses, not just medium-sized ones.

The smallest businesses often simply don’t have the same logistical financial means and can be overlooked in favour of firms with louder voices and more resources. FSB will work with the Government to help make this happen. By supporting small firms to trade, it means that many businesses will be able to look ahead with confidence to the new trading landscape that awaits us in the coming months, he said.

The new measures are the latest in a series already announced by DIT since the coronavirus outbreak. Sector-specific support was outlined for businesses through “bounce-back” plans for the agriculture, food & drink, tech and retail industries.

UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Government’s credit agency, aims to help businesses grow their overseas trade and build back from the impact of coronavirus.

UKEF is expanding its network of regional Export Finance Managers to help businesses secure the financing they need to trade internationally by appointing renewable energy specialists to put small businesses at the heart of the global transition to clean energy.

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