Cumbria Forum to continue SME support thanks to £140k funding

A successful business growth programme which has helped to create 80 new jobs in Cumbria has been extended for 2022.

Cumbria Forum will continue this year after a further £141,000 was awarded to Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Run by Lancaster University Management School, Cumbria Forum is a fully-funded programme providing eligible business leaders with the time and space to step back from day-to-day operations and focus on building their business for the future. Since its launch in 2016, it has supported 168 Cumbrian firms to create more than 80 new jobs and launch 24 new products or services.

Now, with additional funding taking it through to September 2022, Cumbria Forum – which is supported by Cumbria Growth Hub- hopes to support another 20 small and medium-sized businesses over a nine-month period.

To re-launch the project, new ‘Business Excellence’ short programmes have been launched and will take place throughout 2022. Each programme will consist of three half-day online workshops which are designed to be short, practical and impactful. All workshops are fully-funded for eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and are designed to tackle issues that often present barriers to business growth.

Ewan Pullan, Project Manager at Lancaster University Management School, said: “It is fantastic that Cumbria Forum will continue throughout the majority of 2022 – providing much needed support at a crucial time.

“While businesses have started to move on from the immediate effects of the pandemic, many are facing a new host of challenges associated with the continued uncertainty, disruption to supply chains, staffing shortages and rising costs – all of which can stop a small business in its tracks.

“Our new half-day workshops are designed to directly tackle the toughest issues that SMEs say they are facing at the moment. Businesses can choose which programme to attend depending on which issue resonates with them the most – whether it be overcoming barriers to de-risk and bring new ideas to market, how to implement price increases or how to use ‘lean’ business tools to better align business priorities and success with sustainability and the environment.”

The first programme, Pricing with Purpose, begins on 27 January 2022. This is followed by a Lean for 2022 programme on 8 February 2022, and the Ideas into Action programme starts on 3 March 2022.

Suzanne Caldwell, Managing Director of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in The Growth Hub, said: “The feedback from businesses taking part in Cumbria Forum activity to date has been fantastic so we’re delighted that we’ve been able to extend this. The addition of the shorter programmes covered in 3 half-day workshops is a great development as this will allow more businesses to benefit without having to commit to a longer-term programme when their time is tight.”

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