Businesses are being urged to submit growth-based grant bids, as the deadline for a much-used fund approaches.

For over a decade, the North East Business Support Fund has provided a protective shield for business owners, helping SMEs de-risk investment in growth.

The fund’s success has been staggering, supporting nearly 5,000 SME businesses with over £9.1m in grants distributed across the region.

However, the fund ends in March 2023, and, with grants still available to support North East SMEs – particularly those operating as business to business suppliers – NBSL is urging firms to maximise their growth potential by submitting applications before the scheme closes.

Administered by NBSL – which oversees a range of regional business support programmes – the North East Business Support Fund was launched in 2012. The organisation is laser-focused on ensuring every penny available to businesses is delivered, and with grants still available, they are preparing for a flood of applications.

NBSL business support manager, John King, said: “The success of the North East Business Support Fund has been incredible – it has long been one of the region’s most accessible and effective forms of grant funding for SMEs.

“The secret of its success is its simplicity: it’s there to help businesses grow; and its application process is simple, taking just 15 minutes to complete, and having already achieved so much, we want this fund to end on a high!

“We are working hard to maximise the opportunity this grant offers. This tranche of funding must be allocated before the end of March 2023, and we want to see every penny spent on helping our regional business community evolve.

“NBSL is celebrating 21 years of supporting business and we will continue to do so, but our immediate focus is on making use of North East Business Support Fund now. Following one of the deepest recessions in generations, a pandemic and constantly fluctuating economic conditions, this fund has been a constant. It has helped de-risk investment in marketing plans, website upgrades, social media development; as well help firms access external expertise to evolve and improve processes – it has been a source of positive change the length and breadth of the North East.”

NEBSF offers grants of up to 35% towards growth projects in Tyne & Wear and 40% to County Durham SMEs, for projects costing between £2,500 and £8,000. Applications are encouraged from business that have not accessed the fund before.

A not-for-profit organisation, NBSL help SMEs from all sectors match-fund a variety of projects, the main criteria being “will it help the business grow?”

To mark 21 years supporting regional businesses, the agency is launching “NBSL 21 – Key to Success” – a campaign designed not only to recognise the success achieved since it was created in 2002, but also to make sure SMEs are aware that the organisation’s specialists continue to provide this vital support.

“The NEBSF has provided the bedrock for so many businesses to grow and realise their potential. The grant’s responsiveness and agility reflects our own ability as an organisation to deliver,” said John. “Due to our professionalism, expertise and experience supporting businesses, we have been tasked with delivering a suite of other support funds, taking in COVID recovery, innovation, enterprise development and skills development programmes.

“We are a critical friend to SMEs and funding bodies investing in business growth. By working with funding bodies we’re able design and deliver support programmes that are accessible and effective while delivering strong return on investment”.

“NBSL prides itself in taking the hassle out of grant applications and are proud to be an ally to the North East’s plethora of exciting SMEs, champing at the bit to realise their potential.