In 2021 AMION completed an evaluation of the Cumbria Growth Catalyst for Cumbria County Council and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. We completed an interim evaluation of the project in 2019.
The Growth Catalyst was created because many businesses in Cumbria are in the retail, agriculture, visitor economy and nuclear sectors and are therefore unable to access support from the main ERDF-funded Growth Hub. The County Council was therefore provided with funding from BEIS to provide an alternative service for these sectors. BEIS provided funding of £250,000 per year for the project.
The Growth Hub was delivered by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with a number of sector-relevant organisations such as the Farmer Network and Cumbria Tourism. It provided an initial diagnostic, action plans and direct support through three or twelve hours of support from a business advisor, workshops and events. It also signposted beneficiaries to other support providers in the area.
The objectives of the project can be summarised as to support the growth of businesses in the four eligible sectors, to increase awareness and take-up of support in these sectors and to enable businesses with the greatest growth prospects to achieve their potential.
The evaluation included a telephone survey of beneficiaries (carried out by Spirul) and consultations with programme staff from the Council, the LEP, the Chamber of Commerce and the delivery partners.