A major business support scheme helping Coventry and Warwickshire businesses is reflecting on its success after generating more than £19 million in value and creating 175 jobs in its seven years of existence.
From left: Annie Johnson (Warwickshire County Council), Cllr Martin Watson, Hayley Lineker (Warwickshire County Council), Ian McFarlane-Toms, Gillian Dale (Warwickshire County Council), Mark Tock
Business Ready, which ran from 2016 to June 2023 to address a market failure, has enabled more than 1,500 start-ups and tech-based SMEs to access targeted business support, mentoring, grants and more from a team of expert business advisers.
The programme has provided advice and assistance to ambitious and expanding companies. It has been delivered by the business support team at the?University of Warwick Science Park, and was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and the University of Warwick Science Park as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.
Since it began, Business Ready has helped companies raise £19.1m through equity, debt and grants, has facilitated demand-led workshops to more than 2,300 people, and helped create 63 brand new companies.
After seven years of supporting companies, Ian McFarlane-Toms, Business Ready Programme Manager, reflected on the programme’s success.
He said: “When Business Ready was conceived, it really was an innovative proposition. There simply wasn’t fully- funded support available that provided clients with access to the depth and breadth of subject matter experts that we offered.
“Our team of business support advisers had a broad range of expertise across multiple sectors, which meant we were typically always able to match the individual needs of each customer.
“There was never a one-size-fits-all solution – we’d always come up with a personalised solution for each business we worked with.”
Business Ready’s referrals would come from a variety of sources, such as through third parties like the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, but many came through the networking ability of the business advisers themselves.
This resulted in a huge variety of companies using the programme’s services, from a firm working to create highly-efficient electric batteries from nanotubes, to a business delivering musical educational tools to schools in the area.
“We are delighted with the success of the programme over the last seven years, and I think we can be really proud of what we achieved,” Ian added.
“Ultimately, being a managing director of a company that is looking to grow can be quite a lonely experience. It’s difficult to know who to turn to at times for support and advice.
“Business Ready has filled that niche incredibly well, and to have helped so many businesses get to where they need to be, while creating dozens of jobs along the way, is a fantastic achievement.”
Cllr Martin Watson, portfolio holder for economy with Warwickshire County Council, said: “The Business Ready programme mirrored the county council’s ambitions. It supported high-tech, low-carbon innovation which will provide employment opportunities into the future.
“For some businesses, that expertise and mentoring has been exactly what they’ve needed to take them to the next level. It’s been another offer in our range of support to businesses that has clearly been meeting a need over the years. Congratulations to all involved in the success of the programme.”