Meet northern Lincolnshire's united A-Team (that's advisers)

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 31 Jul 2018

A SIGNIFICANT rise in business support in recent years has seen scores of organisations formed to help aid the economy.

With assistance available for almost every element of capital growth, while it is always appreciated, it can be a challenge to fully appreciate what is on offer – whether it is physical expansion of premises, vital equipment or help to fund apprenticeships or guidance into a new area or market.

With a stark realisation this was the case as the region dusted itself down from the deepest recession of a lifetime, some of those providing such a valuable service began meeting on a casual basis. 

From three or four over coffee, the North and North East Lincolnshire Adviser Gathering can now welcome up to 35 individuals.

Duncan Slater, international trade adviser for Yorkshire and the Humber, and Jenny Vincent, then employer adviser for Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, instigated it, with Ian Palmer, innovation manager for University of Hull’s SparkFund programme and Tim Maddinson of E-Factor joining them.

Jenny, now a co-ordinator with the Careers and Enterprise Company, said: “We were working in silos doing our own thing with businesses. One business in Grimsby had four support meetings with people who could all work together, covering manufacturing support, apprenticeships, funding and training.

“We didn’t really know each other, or the extent of what we could offer.”

It may surprise many just how much support is there, and how much it is relied upon for investment decisions, with match funding and private backing often part of wider deals. 

Mr Slater said: “What we are looking at now is holistic support of business. It is joined up support. I personally have a little niche of helping people export, but people who I help want to buy a new machine, take on staff and bring in training. If you can make it a better company it will make it a better exporter. It is the whole package of assistance. 

“My biggest problem is knowing what I don’t know. There is one of me. I know 100 companies. If we get 25 people, that can be 2,500, so that’s the situation.”

Since the small start-up over coffee at the Enterprise Village four years ago, it has been replicated for Hull and East Riding, and now gathers quarterly, more formally, with introductions from all and a haring of knowledge, leads and advice. 

Mr Palmer said: “Business support has grown in terms of funds that are available and this group has grown with it. The main emphasis is to try and appear joined up, to work together to maximise the benefits we can bring to business. If we can leverage more support the impact is clearly going to be greater.”

A recent addition to the group is Heidi Dodson, representing InvestmentHub North East Lincolnshire. The local authority-backed initiative is designed to ease funding access, and again can be for a number of uses. She said: “It is brilliant.

Everyone is there who we signpost to, so it is putting faces to the names I see and great for relationship building.” 

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