The Gloucestershire Growth Hub has supported Gloucestershire businesses in the creation of an estimated 1,200 jobs and £155 million Gross Value Added (GVA) and boosted turnover by £400m since 2014, according to an independent evaluation by BiGGAR Economics.
The report also highlights that in a survey of 400 businesses which had received advice and support from the Growth Hub, 40% reported improved profitability, 34% reduced their operating costs, and 38% reported improved products and services.
The release of the report coincides with the launch of the next phase of Universities UK’s #GettingResults campaign, which is highlighting universities working closely with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to boost economic growth and support their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new report builds on previous evaluations to look in detail at the second phase of the Growth Hub that began in 2017; introducing an expanded range of services aimed at supporting all stages of business creation and growth from pre-start and early stage advice (Start and Grow Enterprise – SaGE) through to intensive growth programmes and innovation support for more established businesses.
The report by BiGGAR Economics – a leading independent economic consultancy – says the Growth Hub played a key role during the Covid-19 pandemic, with all its services moved swiftly online so that it could continue to support the business community.
The report says: “Its reputation has grown over time as it has become an embedded feature of the business support landscape, a role which was highlighted during the pandemic when its services pivoted rapidly to help businesses adapt and survive.
“It was a much sought-after resource at this time and received 600 requests for support in the first four months of the pandemic.”
The Growth Hub is also delivering unprecedented support with entrepreneurship to students at University of Gloucestershire, with this element being embedded within the curriculum across a range of courses, according to the report.
“The work of the Growth Hub is a key part of the University’s mission to engage with businesses and to develop entrepreneurial skills in its students,” it adds. “The Growth Hub has repositioned the University as a driver of innovation-based academic learning.”
The University’s Business School launched two new programmes in 2020-21 – the BA (Hons) Business Management (Enterprise and Innovation) and the MBA Global (Enterprise, Innovation and Design Thinking) – based on Growth Hub resources and programmes.
Stephen Marston, Vice-Chancellor of University of Gloucestershire, said: “This latest independent evaluation of the Growth Hub tells a very positive story for the University and for Gloucestershire, particularly as it covers the years when many businesses were seeking support to survive and thrive during the most challenging stage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since we first created the Growth Hub at Oxstalls in 2014, it has supported Gloucestershire businesses to create an estimated 1,200 jobs and £155 million Gross Value Added, and increased turnover by almost £400m. That is a massive achievement.
“By locating the Growth Hub on the University campus at Oxstalls, and integrating it with our Gloucestershire Business School, we have been able to draw on the University’s resources in providing a wide range of valuable and effective services to business.
“This is a great example of the University’s mission to work with partners for the benefit of our community, driving growth, innovation and enterprise for the benefit of everyone. At the same time, the Growth Hub has proved a powerful vehicle for getting our students closer to business, gaining hands-on experience and practical learning in business realities.”
Alex Cottrell, Growth Hub Manager, added: “This independent evaluation is an endorsement of the contribution that the Growth Hub has made, and continues to make, to the health and resilience of regional business.
“Working alongside our partners in the University and GFirst LEP, we have delivered measurable impacts for the business and student communities we serve. And, in doing so, we have witnessed incredible examples of innovation, enterprise and strategies for a sustainable future.”
David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, said: “We’ve always been very proud of our Growth Hub network and of our partnership with the University of Gloucestershire.
“This independent evaluation reiterates the value of our Growth Hubs to the Gloucestershire business community. I am extremely proud of all the work done by The Growth Hub team, particularly through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will not become complacent and we will strive to drive further innovation, job creation and business growth.”