Business Durham

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Business Durham's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Business Durham is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Brian Archer, managing
Business Durham is the economic development organisation that
works on behalf of Durham County Council to enable growth,
create jobs and improve lives in and around the county. They
seek to find new ways to support and nurture businesses through
the innovative use of public sector budgets and private sector
finance to help companies gain access to the funding they require
in order to fulfil their needs. Managing director Brian Archer
Thriving economies depend on dynamic companies to generate jobs and create
wealth, from micro-businesses started at an entrepreneur’s kitchen table to well-
established international corporations. We offer support and advice across the whole
spectrum, helping firms tap into the funding available from the public and private
sectors and creating an enterprise culture in which they can prosper.
As part of our drive to raise the profile of County Durham as the best place to invest,
start or grow a business, we have an extensive portfolio of business properties, from
commercial office space to high-tech laboratories. We have also built up a tight-knit
network that connects businesses with the funding and advice support they need to
grow and flourish, whether they are already in the region or are looking to relocate.
Whichever stage of development a business is at, we can help them to meet the
challenges they are facing, whether that might be research and development, the design
of new products, training, marketing or expansion. The companies we have worked with
to help settle and expand in the region include Hitachi Rail, Atom bank and Caterpillar.
At the opposite end of the scale, we are working to inspire the next generation of
business leaders through our groundbreaking Future Business Magnates competition
in secondary schools. Students work with experts from local firms on challenges such
as product design, marketing and finance.
We have also launched the Durham City Incubator in partnership with Durham
University and New College Durham to help graduates establish new enterprises
and retain their talent in the region. The incubator is hosted in one of our flagship
properties, the award-winning £3.4 million Salvus House building in Durham City,
which opened last year and can provide businesses with the space they need, be that
a generous suite of offices or an efficient virtual workspace.
Funding for ambitious firms
To help the current crop of SMEs secure the finance they need, we have forged
strong links with banks and financial intermediaries, and can provide access to a wide
range of funding. This includes venture capital, business angels, grants and initiatives
that support specific sectors. This complex funding landscape can be bewildering,
so, whatever stage a company is at, we have access to appropriate expertise to
understand their needs and utilise the financing most appropriate for them.
The recognition that SMEs need as many options as possible prompted the 2017
launch of our £20 million Finance Durham fund on behalf of the county council,
»Managing director:
»Established in 2012
»Based in Durham
»Services: Economic
development for Durham
County Council
»Works with more than 1,000
businesses every year
»Attracts capital and inward
investment to the county
»Set up £20 million Finance
Durham investment fund in
Business Durham
managed by Maven Capital Partners,
one of the UK’s leading private
equity managers. Designed to unlock
companies’ growth potential, it offers
funding that ranges from £200,000 to
£700,000, though 10 per cent of the
fund has been set aside for incubation
investments of £10,000 to £40,000.
The fund is committed to supporting
up to 70 companies in its first ten years,
sustaining their expansion, creating
jobs and contributing to the general
prosperity of the region. Applicants
must be based in or relocating to
County Durham and are subject to a
rigorous process of due diligence.
The fund has already had a big impact.
It toasted its first deal in 2017, with
a £250,000 investment in Durham
Distillery to help the owner of Durham
Gin move into new premises, able to
include a visitor centre, and to launch
the region’s first single malt whisky.
Finance Durham’s first incubator
investment, however, was for £40,000
in Moralbox in Seaham, a technology
start-up that provides software to help
employers and employees manage
training records. Other investments
include £650,000 in a biomass energy
plant and £250,000 in an automotive
customising business.
Space and satellites – a new
One area where we see an opportunity
to create high-value jobs and have
a positive impact on society is the
space and satellite sector, for which
Business Durham acts as something of
a northeastern hub. As well as raising
awareness about the region’s track
record of success in space and satellites,
we are seeking to encourage businesses
in other fields to expand into the
sector and to attract new companies to
Business Durham’s NETPark in
Sedgefield is one of the UK’s leading
science parks and expanded this year
with the opening of new £7.4 million
Explorer buildings. It is also host to
the North East Satellite Applications
Centre of Excellence and the North East
Space Incubation Programme, helping
businesses leverage funding from the
likes of the UK Space Agency, Innovate
UK, the European Space Agency and
the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. Our
unique challenge-led approach is not
just about the technology that goes into
orbit, but also about developing the
applications that use satellite data to
solve problems on the ground.
The theme of the Centre of Excellence
is “Satellites for a Safer World”,
bringing together international,
national and local expertise and
providing funding opportunities and
assistance in accessing finance. It
has created an environment where
businesses, academics and public sector
organisations can work collaboratively.
Leveraging government investment
generates real results for companies
and value for money for taxpayers. The
Business Durham-led North East Satellite
Applications Centre of Excellence, funded
by the Satellite Applications Catapult
and UK Space Agency, has assisted
companies to secure over £4 million in
additional investment in 2017/18.
A long-term innovative
These successes illustrate how our role
goes beyond just providing bricks and
mortar or simply matching firms with
finance providers; it extends to building
the networks that will provide support
over extended periods of time.
As a robust and agile organisation,
we can open our doors to a wide
range of public funding and private
sector finance to help companies meet
their short-term needs and build for
the future. By taking an innovative
approach, we can deliver better results
for public sector budgets and attract
new private sector finance; this will
go a long way towards creating a
vibrant regional economy, showcasing
the area’s attractions and reaffirming
Durham’s status as a great place to live
and work.
By taking an
approach to
finance, we can
deliver better
results for public
sector budgets
and attract new
private sector

This article was sponsored by Business Durham. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy