The University of Derby has supported the creation of more than 1,000 jobs in key growth sectors across the East Midlands since launching its Invest to Grow funding scheme in 2014.
More than a quarter of the new jobs have been created in Derbyshire, including roles in transport equipment manufacturing, life sciences, construction, food and drink manufacturing, logistics, engineering and low carbon sectors.
It is a major milestone for the fund, which through a re-circulating finance scheme, provides a combination of loans and grants to SMEs to support specific projects. These are typically related to businesses growing, developing or improving their products and related services, as well as creating new and sustainable jobs.
Mr Hari Punchihewa, Deputy Chief-Executive and Finance Director of the University, said: “I’m delighted that the scheme managed by the University with an independent panel has reached this impressive milestone.
“The funding from Invest to Grow provides much needed financial support to businesses across the East Midlands and has had a significant economic impact over several key growth sectors. Alongside the ongoing Invest to Grow scheme and the additional support to SMEs from the University, we can expect to see further job creation and growth in the wider business community.”
The University was originally awarded a total of £16.35m in funding by the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) for its Invest to Grow scheme. This is not the end of the scheme however. As this is a re-circulating finance scheme, there is still recycled loan funding to be repaid into the scheme and recirculated to new projects.
Mark Wheddon, Head of Delivery for Invest to Grow at the University of Derby, added: “In addition to job creation, managing the Invest to Grow fund has facilitated enhanced links between businesses and the University. There are several examples of ongoing collaboration, knowledge exchange and a general increased awareness of the University’s wider role as an economic anchor institution supporting the region’s businesses.
“The funding has directly enabled many businesses to recruit new staff and bring in new skills or contributed to training and upskilling existing employees, often in relation to new equipment, technology or processes. Many of our funding recipients have also continued to work with the University through employing PhD students to undertake research.”
Homecare Direct Limited, based in Chesterfield, provide services to people who need individual care to organise their own support at home. The company was awarded £160,000 by Invest to Grow to enable them to relocate to new fit for purpose premises and to invest in its IT infrastructure.
Speaking about the impact of the Invest to Grow fund, Roger Adams, Director at Homecare Direct Limited, said: “Support from Invest to Grow not only enabled the business to grow and create new employment, but also led to further collaboration with the University. In 2017 Homecare Direct took on two placement students which proved to be highly successful and beneficial to both the company and the students.”