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Business & Economy

North East manufacturers urged to tap into SME grant scheme

A grant scheme launched to support SME manufacturers during the coronavirus pandemic is urging eligible businesses to apply for funding before time runs out.

The Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project, which supports SMEs in the North East LEP area, was introduced back in March to help companies adapt during the crisis.

The fund provides match funding grants of up to £10,000 to help companies diversify or adapt to stay operational.

Ken Teears, project manager at SAM, said: “The feedback we’ve received from the region’s manufacturing community so far has been fantastic.

“However, we know that there are still hundreds of businesses out there that have been affected by the pandemic and are eligible to tap into this support but are yet to contact us.”

Applications can be for new capital equipment or external expertise – excluding working capital, salaries, rent or rates – to help their company survive, adapt and sustain themselves through and after the crisis.

Companies looking to innovate and grow are encouraged to apply even if their capital investment is not specifically as a result of COVID-19.

Grants are offered at a 50 per cent rate in County Durham and 40 per cent rate in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

Mr Teears added: “The project has taken the decision to limit maximum grants to £10,000 grant value, to allow us to support as many companies as possible to stay afloat, adapt and maintain operations through Covid-19.

“We believe that sharing the funding around as best as possible, with a limited pot to draw from, will ensure more businesses are able to survive during these challenging times.”

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) is a collaboration between European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and University of Sunderland.

It was funded with a £2.6 million commitment from ERDF and £2.5 million from the University of Sunderland, and is aimed solely at small and medium sized manufacturers (under 250 employees), with an annual turnover of less than €50 million (£45 million approx.)