Funding business growth in County Durham

March 5, 2020

The County Durham Growth Fund has awarded capital grants of more than half a million pounds to three businesses from across the county since its launch in summer 2019

Business Durham – the economic development arm of Durham County Council – is a trusted advisor to hundreds of businesses across Durham, providing expert knowledge, advice and ongoing support for every stage of a business.

It oversees significant funding pots such as the Finance Durham Fund with Maven Capital Partners and the County Durham Growth Fund in partnership with UMi.

In the last year Business Durham has awarded three local businesses substantial sums of capital grant funding to finance their planned growth and create more jobs through the County Durham Growth Fund.

The County Durham Growth Fund is a £4.9 million capital grant scheme that provides grants to small and medium-sized businesses in County Durham to accelerate their growth.

Engineering firms Dyer Engineering and Bignall Group Ltd, and large format print supplier, Design X-Press Ltd, are the first three companies to secure capital grants.

Dyer Engineering
Dyer Engineering is the largest independent engineering business in County Durham, with two sites in Stanley.

It recently received a £475,000 capital grant from the County Durham Growth Fund to purchase a fibre laser profiling machine and robotic welding units and cranes to help increase its manufacturing capabilities and to access new markets.

This funding is expected to create 54 jobs.

Bignall Group
For more than 40 years, Bignall Group has helped designers, engineers and entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality.

The group design and develop light engineered products from their base in Shildon, County Durham, and sell in 20 different countries across multiple industries.

Through the County Durham Growth Fund, Bignall Group secured a £35,000 capital grant to help modernise and update its current machine shop, as well as purchase new milling machinery to increase the firm’s capacity and help it expand into new markets.

It is hoped this funding will create eight new jobs.

Mark Coatsworth, group commercial manager at Bignall Group, says: “The grant has been gratefully received by Bignall Group, enabling our Shildon Manufacturing Company brand to secure additional work through increased machine capacity. This has secured our position with a key customer and enables us to continue supporting our internal projects as well as new and other existing external customers, further contributing to the growth of the North East region.”

Design X-Press
Large format print solutions company Design X-Press was a successful grant applicant for the County Durham Growth Fund and plans to use its £50,000 grant to buy new print equipment to increase its capacity, improve efficiency and offer a broader range of services.

Juliette Brown, managing director at Design X-Press, reflects: “The recent grant funding we received from the County Durham Growth Fund enabled us to become the first UK company to take delivery of the new LED Jetrix LXi7 printer. This press, coupled with the Oce Colorado 1650 roll-fed printer, have been introduced to develop our strategy for further growth.

“Following months of research within the market, these presses were selected for speed, output quality, flexibility and more economical running costs compared to the current equipment.

“We now have our sights set on reaching £1.5 million in turnover and will be creating four more jobs, one of which is already in place.

“The application was straight forward and the help and support we received through UMi made the journey even simpler. Its people were very knowledgeable and communicated with us regularly throughout the whole process.”

Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s managing director, says: “We are delighted to be able to fund these three businesses’ capital grant projects and help each of them to grow and achieve their ambitions.

“The County Durham Growth Fund was set up to support businesses in County Durham with capital projects such as investing in new equipment and improving facilities.

“Each of these companies can make a real impact on our local economy, improving productivity in key sectors in the county and help to boost job creation.”

Karen Jones, senior project manager at UMi, adds: “The fund is really starting to make a difference now and it’s great to hear from businesses what the impact from the grant means for them as well as the boost to the county.”

Grants applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers, before receiving final approval by UMi.

John Healey, corporate finance partner at UNW, says: “We’re delighted to be part of a scheme that is encouraging business growth in County Durham. It has been a fantastic opportunity to engage with the region and help to support the creation of sustainable jobs that will boost the North East economy.”

The funding has been secured from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014- 2020.

To qualify, small and medium-sized businesses need to be planning a capital investment of at least £100,000 to expand existing operations or establish new operations in County Durham.

Business Durham
For further details and to apply for the County Durham Growth Fund, visit 

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