An independent evaluation by BiGGAR Economics, published today (25 January), shows the Growth Hub is fully achieving its goals in boosting productivity and economic growth in the county.
In the three years since the Growth Hub opened, businesses who have received support from the Hub have seen a £20 million increase in turnover. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics also show the growth rate in Gloucestershire is the 3rd highest in the UK, behind London and Oxfordshire.
The Growth Hub was created as a result of the University of Gloucestershire and GFirst LEP committing to work together to achieve a step change in business growth and economic performance in the county. With funding from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), the University launched phase 1 of the Growth Hub at the Oxstalls campus in Gloucester, opening its doors to businesses in October 2014 with one overarching objective: to help local businesses increase productivity and grow the economy in Gloucestershire.
The BiGGAR Report concludes that the Growth Hub has succeeded in meeting all the targets set by HEFCE for those first three years. These include:
• 10,506 visitors to the Growth Hub
• the creation of 21 new business support services
• the development of 30 new teaching/work-based learning programmes
• the creation of 12 new employer/higher education provider networks
• the completion of 13,656 work placements and internships
• 1,872 University of Gloucestershire graduates taking up jobs in Gloucestershire
• a provisional knowledge exchange income figure of £3.19m
• 7,934 businesses benefiting from support interventions
• 905 high growth businesses benefiting from intensive support.
The independent evaluation report surveyed a range of Growth Hub business users and concluded: “There is a strong sense that the Growth Hub is delivering its objectives for business customers. There is a high level of satisfaction with the services delivered by the Growth Hub.”
An infographic summarising the key targets and outcomes is available here.
Rob Malin worked with the Growth Hub when he set up his business When in Rome Wine in Gloucestershire. The firm brings Italian wine into the county and offered the world’s first box wine subscription service. Rob Malin says the Growth Hub offered him support with funding and mentoring. He said: “The mentoring helped me professionalise my business and the seed funding helped me to set up the subscription service. I’d absolutely recommend the Growth Hub to other professionals, I think many of them are unaware that such a resource exists and they would benefit from their involvement on many levels.”
Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire said: “The University is committed to supporting economic growth and business success in Gloucestershire. The Growth Hub is a central part of that goal, providing a wide range of services to help businesses innovate, thrive and prosper. This independent evaluation of the first three years of the Growth Hub tells a very positive story for Gloucestershire. The Growth Hub has worked with thousands of businesses and individuals, while also creating great opportunities for our students and staff to build their contacts and understanding of what it is really like to set up, run and grow a businesses. It is great to have this independent confirmation that the Growth Hub really has achieved the goals we set for ourselves when we set off on this journey, and has proved the value of the University’s contribution to business and growth in our area.
“Now we are moving on to the next stage. With help from EU funding, we are extending the services we can offer for new business start-up, innovation, and SME development. And this September we will finally achieve the full vision - which is to integrate the University’s Business School with the Growth Hub in a brand new, purpose designed building here at Oxstalls campus. That will maximize the benefits of bringing together in a single place businesses, students, staff and the full range of our business support and economic development activities.
“It will create a unique space where businesses, students and staff can work together to promote innovation, talent and creativity. That will be great for business, having a single front door to fully funded expertise and support, with direct access to knowledge exchange, business development and input from students. It will be great for students, able to build their employability, gaining business skills and insight through direct engagement with business. And it will be great for our economy, boosting innovation, enterprise and support for business success, with more talented graduates ready to take up roles in business.”
David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP said: “The investment into the Growth Hub from GFirst LEP at £10 million has been one of our largest investments to date. The findings from the BIGGAR report confirm we were right to make this significant investment and are solid proof that the Growth Hub has made significant impact into helping the Gloucestershire economy grow. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the Growth Hub staff, past and present, for all their hard work in the first three years and look forward to hearing more success stories for our Gloucestershire businesses as the Growth Hub model rolls out across the county.”