Freeport East growth funds now open for parts of Suffolk and Essex

Two new funds, with a combined value of up to £800,000 in support, are now open for applications, courtesy of Freeport East. These funds are designed to offer vital support to small and growing businesses and play a pivotal role in fostering opportunities for new innovations and individuals seeking careers in high potential sectors, including green energy.

The Freeport East Clean Growth Fund is dedicated to providing financial assistance to local businesses operating within clean energy and Freeport East’s other target sectors. Meanwhile, the Freeport East Innovation and Skills Fund will focus on building access to innovation and skills opportunities, particularly in underserved communities.

The funds will benefit the Freeport East region, which covers parts of Suffolk and Essex. This incorporates an area approximately 45 kilometres across, extending from the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich in the east, stretching from Woodbridge in the north, to Stowmarket and Sudbury in the west and to Colchester, Jaywick and Clacton in the south.

These targeted funds are strategically aimed at sectors where Freeport East sees the potential for building stronger, local economic clusters. This includes areas such as clean energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced logistics, digital technology, and agritech.

The development of these funds has been influenced and fine-tuned through valuable feedback received from an earlier expressions of interest process. Those interested in receiving support will have until Friday 10th May to apply for funding. 

Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, comments:  

“These funds are an integral part of how we spread the benefits of Freeport East across our local area.  By supporting businesses in key sectors that create sustainable, high value growth for the future, we will help to ensure we can take opportunities in new, emerging economic sectors. 

“Our commitment to strengthening innovation systems and honing skills is designed to position our broader economy and communities to thrive in this evolving landscape. By doing so, we not only capitalise on new prospects but also ensure that the benefits are distributed across our local area and align with Freeport East’s overarching objective to support local economic growth.”

Councillor Ivan Henderson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Regeneration and Tourism at Tendring District Council, who is also a Freeport East Board Director, said:

“Freeport East is a true shared endeavour among public and private bodies in Essex and Suffolk. It is about strengthening our position in an increasingly competitive global marketplace while supporting all our local businesses and people to take advantage of the opportunities that brings.

“Not only are these funds about financial support, but about being associated with Freeport East and being a part of its networks which provide wider benefits. I would strongly encourage ambitious businesses across our local economy to take a look at what’s on offer and see how the freeport can support them.”

The Freeport East Growth Fund is set up to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) invest in growth. This includes activities like creating new products and services, increasing trading opportunities, and expanding production. Freeport East already have strong international connections and are building exciting new innovation collaborations in target sectors like green hydrogen, offshore wind and Artificial Intelligence. 

The Freeport East Innovation and Skills Fund seeks to address the surging demand for new innovations and a skilled workforce in green energy and other target sectors within the region. These include digital technology, advanced logistics and manufacturing. This could go towards improvements such as new facilities or services that train and up-skill and are provided by innovation centres, universities, colleges and local training centres and their connections to businesses.

For more details and to access application forms for these funds, please visit the Freeport East website at www.freeporteast.com

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