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Why high-growth businesses hold the key to Lancashire’s recovery

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When economists talk about ‘the recovery’ we’re led to believe there’s a point where all businesses, regardless of size and circumstances, magically begin growing again.

This is a somewhat misleading generalisation, because we all know that in any economic conditions there will always be some businesses growing, some contracting and even some failing.

When we talk about a recovery, we’re really looking for explicit evidence of a high proportion of businesses performing better than they were previously and that these businesses are investing money in new jobs, product development, staff training, improved premises, better plant and processes.

The most ambitious and entrepreneurial of these businesses, both existing firms and start-ups, will lead this recovery and their importance cannot be underestimated.

A report released by NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) in 2011 argued that because of their crucial role in creating jobs, and their resilience in hard times, the government must put these high-growth firms at the heart of its growth plan.

There is a plethora of research to back this up. A study released by NESTA in 2009 showed that just 6% of UK businesses with the highest growth rates generated half of the new jobs created by existing businesses between 2002 and 2008.

Data from Aston Business School showed that new business launched between 2007 and 2010 created 36% of new jobs in that period. A recent report from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme revealed how just one per cent of all firms – the high-growth small businesses, according to the OECD definition – were responsible for 23% of all new employment over that time.

While all businesses should be able to access some state support, these studies create a strong argument that the bulk of government help should be targeted at businesses with high growth potential.

This is the premise behind Boost Business Lancashire – the county’s recently launched £7.2m Business Growth Hub, which has received £3.6m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

By offering specific support to ambitious Lancashire businesses, Boost aims to grow the county’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

Many Lancashire businesses have huge growth potential and the ambition, but don’t know where to start. The most important step for businesses in this position is to get in touch with us to start the growth conversation.

Boost will offer a range of services, some 100% funded, some part-funded, including:

  • Growth Mentoring by Community & Business Partners; providing high growth mentoring support through successful business leaders who have already worked through similar challenges.
  • Lancashire Forum; an exclusive leadership peer-to-peer networking and development programme run by Lancaster University.
  • Lancashire LEAP; led by Winning Pitch and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, providing advice to pre-start and early start businesses.
  • UCLan’s Innovation Clinic; aimed at supporting advanced manufacturing and engineering companies to develop new products and move into new markets.
  • Winning Pitch’s GrowthAccelerator; an expanded version of the national GrowthAccelerator programme.

Find out more

To apply for a place on the programme, complete our online form or call 0800 488 0057.

Author

Andy Walker, Head of Business growth & Innovation, Lancashire County Council

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