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Participants in £2.6m Mentor Challenge Fund to mentor UK small businesses

Small businesses in the UK will now be able to receive sector specific mentoring from thirteen projects that are participating in the GBP2.6m Mentor Challenge Fund, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) revealed on Wednesday.

The projects have been awarded GBP1.27m of government funding and this has been more than matched by industry for a total investment of GBP2.69m, to help grow the businesses of ambitious small firms, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Research has shown that company bosses of small and medium-sized companies aiming to grow can benefit from mentoring from a contemporary with direct experience of the same type of business. The Mentor Challenge Fund is designed to meet this need and is expected to help sustain and create over 200 jobs and increase skills levels in participating firms, as well as generate increased sales of over GBP7m. The projects will offer businesses an average of 20 to 24 hours of annual direct advice. However individual schemes may vary according to demand.

Projects covering ten different sectors such as creative industries, life sciences and manufacturing will take part in the Mentor Challenge Fund and include:

Somerset Chamber of Commerce – Hinkley Supplier Enabling Programme (nuclear sector), awarded government funding of GBP134,000, has total project funding of GBP310,500.

Creative England – Creative Business Mentors received GBP131,780, with total project funding GBP308,888.

Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI) – Get Mentoring (For Agriculture and Farming) was awarded GBP150,000, total project funding GBP306,422.

Rail Alliance – Rail Sector small and medium-sized business supply Chain Mentoring receive funding of GBP150,000, and now has total project funding of GBP305,000.

Economic Solutions and Stevenage Bioscience catalyst (biomedical and life sciences sectors) were jointly awarded GBP150,000, with total project funding GBP300,000.

WSX Enterprise – Air, land and sea mentoring challenge. This project was awarded GBP146,250 and has total project funding of GBP292,500.

British Education Suppliers Association (BESA) – ED technology small and medium-sized business mentoring Scheme (education sector) was awarded GBP99,000, with total project funding GBP212,050

Allen Env Solutions Ltd – Low Carbon Sector Mentoring received government funding of GBP100,000 and has total project funding GBP212,000.

Economic Solutions Ltd – Mentor Tex (textiles sector) received funding of GBP77,500 and has total project funding of GBP155,000.

Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership – Northamptonshire High Performance Technology Mentoring Programme (automotive, aerospace, low carbon, defence sectors). This project was awarded GBP44,000 and has total project funding of GBP88,000.

Tree Shepherd – Tree Shepherd Food, Hospitality and Crafts Sector-Specific Mentor Matching Programme for small and medium-sized businesses in Lambeth.

The project was given funding GBP24,000 and has total project funding of GBP74,434.

National Composites Centre – Composites small and medium-sized business Mentoring Programme. Government funding of GBP35,500 awarded, total project funding GBP71,000.

Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce – Staffordshire Ceramics and Manufacturing Academy Mentoring was awarded GBP27,826 of government funding which was matched for total project funding of GBP55,654.

The Mentor Challenge Fund was launched in Gloucester by the Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock, who commented: “Growing a business is hard work and we want to do everything we can to support ambitious entrepreneurs. The best source of advice for businesses comes from others in their field who have been through it and can offer practical, trusted advice.”


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