The University of Wolverhampton has announced it is to set up its award winning business support service at the heart of Hereford’s Enterprise Zone.
It has agreed with the Hereford Enterprise Zone to set up a Business Solutions Centre at the 100 acre Skylon Park, which was awarded enterprise zone status in 2011.
The centre will provide a range of activities and services to businesses in the Marches area including delivering the recently won £4.3m Regional Growth Fund backed Greenshoots grant funding, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, development of a business start-up programme, delivery of Continuous Professional Development programmes and consultancy services.
Importantly, it will also establish a business network for businesses in the Enterprise Zone and provide a range of skills and technology development workshops and provide a hot-desking facility forbusinesses.
Based in the Skylon Court area of the park, which is supported by investment from Herefordshire Council and the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13, it will open in July 2015.
The venture will be based upon the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre, at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park, which has won a string of national awards for its work with businesses.
Professor Ian Oakes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and External Engagement, said: “First and foremost we are absolutely delighted to be part of Skylon Park, the enterprise zone and the city of Hereford.
“We have been welcomed with open arms by the various bodies in Hereford and this reflects our approach to widening our presence in the region and acting as a beacon for opportunity, innovation, enterprise and skills.
“We very much see our role as one of economic regeneration and development and we hope this new Business Solutions Centre will develop a true sense of confidence and entrepreneurialism in the city.
“Our ambition for the centre is for it to become the first port of call for business growth and innovation inquiries in the area and for us to really help businesses achieve growth whether that is in workforce, skills or capital investment.
“We can also provide access to world leading research from the University through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, giving our students, graduates and academics opportunities to help share their expertise directly.
“It also complements the recent £4.3m expansion of the Green Shoots Fund*, which is to help businesses grow by offering access to grants of up to £150,000 and to expert business mentors.
This scheme has proved highly successful in the Black Country helping more than 200 businesses and has now been extended to include Hereford and the Marches.”
Bill Jackson, chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board, said: “Skylon Park is a world-class business landscape, attracting millions of pounds worth of investment from companies wanting to grow their businesses here.
“We're delighted to welcome the University of Wolverhampton, which will be supporting these investors and other companies across Herefordshire, by providing business support services as well as a range of other benefits, including the sharing of expertise and knowledge.”
Councillor Tony Johnson, Leader of Herefordshire Council, added: “We are pleased to welcome the University of Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre to Hereford. The city is going through a great period of change which will stimulate increased economic prosperity; more homes and more jobs. The presence of the business support centre is great news for businesses based here or for those wishing to move here and ultimately for our communities.”
The Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre has won a host of accolades for its work with businesses including a Guardian University Award 2014 and a Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award 2013 and has helped more than 1,500 businesses.
*The Green Shoots Fund is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and is a project run by the University of Wolverhampton in partnership with the Express and Star and Shropshire Star newspapers to help Small to Medium Enterprises. (SMEs)
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