Businesses across the Marches have been challenged to kickstart a new era of growth across the region by taking advantage of the huge range of finance now available.

Paul Kalinauckas says there is a wider range of funding and finance options on offer to businesses looking to grow than ever before.

Paul – the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership’s access to finance champion – said the vast range of funding opportunities could help transform any business which was serious about expanding.

He was speaking as the Marches LEP and the Marches Growth Hub – its business support service – launched a new access to finance campaign aimed at helping businesses tap in to some of the funding on offer.

It will culminate with a special event being organised by the LEP, growth hub and Midlands Engine Investment Fund later in the year bringing together some of the region’s leading finance experts.

“The finance landscape has changed enormously in recent years and there is a wealth of options for businesses which want to invest in their growth, with millions of pounds of funding available,” said Paul.

Opportunities included grants through programmes funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the LEP’s own Marches Investment Fund, small business loans, debt finance, proof of concept and equity finance from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF) as well as a range of options through commercial and not-for-profit lenders.

“If you are serious about growth then you will almost certainly need finance to support it – and the Marches Growth Hub is the perfect place to start your search.

“The hub was established to be the gateway to every fund available in the region and be here to help all businesses. It can offer truly impartial, expert advice, signpost you to the right options and help with all the business support needed to turn your ambitions into reality.”

Examples of businesses which have successfully expanded after accessing finance include:

• Visicon: The automation and robotics business has relocated to Hereford’s Shell Store as part of a growth strategy which includes supporting the county’s food & drink sector. The company, which was founded by control system specialist Peter Jelf, secured a Revive and Thrive grant from Herefordshire Council, which is specifically for businesses looking to move to commercial premises in the region.

• The Hereford-based company which works with the likes of Amazon and eBay secured a £200,000 investment from venture capital firm Midven, using equity finance from MEIF. The business, which was initially established in 2015, specialises in providing ePos and stock control for UK retailers and used the funding to expand its sales and customer services team alongside its business development function.

• Cardboard Bedding: Cardboard Bedding relocated to Prees in north Shropshire after securing £180,000 from MEIF through The FSE Group, Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The funding also helped the company to install two additional production lines to meet demand for its equine and animal bedding products, as well as supporting job creation within the business.

• Caradoc Charcoal: The Leebotwood company which was formed in 2019 by directors Charlotte Smith and Kevin Fryer, is now selling a by-product of the charcoal manufacturing process called biochar as a soil improver and animal feed after securing £10,000 from the Small Equipment Grant Scheme. The funding was used to support the purchase of a special sifting machine to grade the biochar into usable sizes. It also helped the business to buy a bagging and weighing machine to upgrade its existing system.

• Golden Bear: The world-famous Telford company invested around £150,000 in new facilities and personnel to enhance its digital offer after receiving nearly £70,000 through the Marches Building Investment Grant (MBIG) for the new facilities at its head office in Hortonwood. The company has used the funding to create a new photographic studio and take on new staff to drive a growth in online sales.

• Earth Rover: The pioneering Newport-based start-up which develops cutting-edge technologies to help farmers improve crop yields has raised £250,000 from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia. The funding will allow Earth Rover to launch its first product, a ‘crop scouting’ system which predicts the size and timing of harvests.

Paul added: “These case studies are just a sample of the success we have had helping business access some of this finance in the past, but we know we can achieve still greater success now.

“We want to see more companies across the Marches taking advantage of MEIF, for example, which has already invested more than £150million in driving growth across the Midlands, and has a strong track record of success in this field.

“The Marches Growth Hub can make a huge difference to your company’s growth ambitions and the time to start investigating the help which is at hand is most definitely now.”

For more details of the range of finance options available visit