GROWING businesses across Tees Valley are being urged to tap into a new funding pot to support their expansion plans.

The £2m Tees Valley Business Growth Investment Scheme provides grant support for capital investment and R&D projects that will create jobs.

Managed by BE Group on behalf of Tees Valley Unlimited and the area's five local authorities the scheme supports projects worth £100,000 or more which can be completed by March 31, 2015.

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Projects will be judged on their levels of impact and preference given to those offering best value for money.

The scheme, which is backed by the government's Regional Growth Fund, offers grants from £25,000 to £1m.

Applications to the scheme will be considered by an investment panel which is made up of business leaders from across the Tees Valley, with expert advisers and observers from the sponsoring Government departments.

Neil Stephenson, the chief executive of Onyx Group, who chairs the panel, expects there will be strong demand for the funding.

He said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this new scheme, which fills an obvious gap in the support for businesses in the Tees Valley.

"This is the first time for many years that grant funding has been available for smaller scale capital investment projects in the area and the scheme will play a vital role in helping businesses create new, sustainable jobs here.

"One of the best things about the Regional Growth Fund and this scheme in particular is that it can put in funds alongside commercial lenders and external investors to enable small businesses to expand when ordinarily it would be too risky for them to do so or when the required finance just isn’t available to them.”

"We look carefully at each application to ensure that the investment is right for the business and right for the scheme and we aim to back the best value, highest impact projects to get maximum impact for the local economy.

"I expect the scheme to be fully subscribed before Christmas, so I would urge businesses to express interest while we still have funds available.”

Simon Allen, senior project manager at the BE Group, offered guidance on how to make a successful application.

He said: “The scheme must meet strict rules laid down by the Government and the EU.

The EU State Aid rules have changed recently and so care must be taken to ensure that applications meet these new requirements. What we can support are sound investment projects from businesses typically in the manufacturing sector or which provide a service which has a reach beyond the Tees Valley, for instance a national IT provider. Applicants must ensure, however, that the amount of support asked for is the minimum amount needed for the required investment to go ahead but does not exceed the limits imposed by the EU State Aid rules.

"These put a maximum level of support of 30 per cent on all projects and depending on the size of the company making the application and the project location, the limit can be as low as 10 per cent. Applicants should therefore read the guidelines before submitting an application.”

To apply visit the BE Group website and click the Tees Valley Business Growth Investment Scheme logo

For more information telephone 0191 426 6408, email