A £1.2m project will support over 90 small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in UK North East England to deal with with recession and prepare for recovery over the next two years.
The initiative, called “Innovation, Advice and Guidance – Developing SME Expertise”, will give SMEs and social enterprises access to expert advisors to help develop new products, processes and services as well as support in retaining their skilled staff.
The project, which is part of Solutions for Business, the UK Government’s package of publicly funded business support designed to help companies start and grow, is half financed from both the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) 2007-2013 and the regional development agency One North East’s Single Programme.
The mechanism of the project will act in the following way: companies with people who might be at risk of redundancy or on short time working will be encouraged to release them for an agreed time to work on a secondment basis in other SMEs and social enterprises in the region; once there, they will work on specific projects, using their expertise to help develop new products, processes or services involving, for example, marketing, finance, innovation, commercial or technical issues.
One North East has procured the North East Enterprise Agencies Ltd (NEEAL) to provide the matching service. Its role is to identify suitable host and donor companies and link appropriately skilled individuals with SMEs, ensuring that all the correct HR legislation and best practices are followed.
In the project, whose practical aim is to get businesses to interact with the scheme before they need to reduce hours or announce redundancy plans for staff, all the partners will act as either sources of available workers or businesses that require skilled people.