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Grants unlock potential

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by Jules
Canterbury Times 27th August 2014: Grants unlock potential

Canterbury Times 27th August 2014: Grants unlock potential

I often think of all the great music out there humming in the heads of people without the musical ability to record it, and the funny things people think without being able to express them as jokes.

It’s the same thing in business. You think of the amount of people who say they’ve got a great idea, but they don’t have the money or other tools to put it into action.

That’s where grants come in. It can be more straight-forward than you think. I had one email from a particularly inspiring example.

Darren Hollands had some bright ideas for making audio speakers and amplifiers. He wanted to base the company locally rather than going to the cheaper manufacturing bases of the world.

“We were looking for factory units in the county that had an area that we could use for design, as well as manufacturing bays,” said Darren “I was finding it frustrating.”

Darren turned to an associate he knew, Chris Broom from Locate in Kent, who suggested he apply for a grant from the South East Urban Coast Creative Enterprise Support Scheme (SUCCESS). This body supports new or expanding creative SME’s who want to create jobs in the district and have match funding.

SUCCESS provided a £150,000 grant, funded from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund covering Thanet.

“If it wasn’t for Chris, I wouldn’t have known about the scheme and we wouldn’t have been able to start up the business,” said Darren.

“I was able to match the £150,000 grant with my own money and loans from family, and that has allowed us to start developing products and to buy a company called O’hEocha which, although technically still trading, had been dormant for a couple of years.

“That has been important, as having an established brand name with a history and product range has opened doors to specialist suppliers and potential high street retailers and has given us a really positive start.”

Locate in Kent also helped identify the Rowe’s Yard unit where the start-up team is busy developing new products, updating those bought from O’hEocha, and developing a range including a streaming unit that allows for downloaded music to be streamed directly to speakers.

“The premises are perfect,” said Darren. “They are new, very clean and smart and ideal for the image we are looking to project to suppliers and customers. We are really keen to identify local suppliers as I am a huge advocate of keeping business as local as possible.”

Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said the range of financial support schemes across the county had made it an even more attractive location for businesses looking to launch or expand.

“All the statistics and feedback we have show that businesses from the UK and beyond are increasingly aware that much of Kent and Medway is covered by Regional Growth Fund support. There are various schemes that support companies of all sizes and at all stages of their development and which are looking to grow and create jobs,” he said.

“Sonic Concept is a prime example of a company whose start-up has been made possible by one of those schemes, launching in an area where investment and growth is helping transform the economic landscape.”

With six months of design and development work ahead before releasing its products to market, the company has a team of four, including Darren, with a fifth joining at the end of August and plans to expand to 20 over the next three years.

To find out how Locate in Kent can help you grow or set up in Kent, visit www.locateinkent.com

To find out more about SUCCESS visit www.success-creative-fund.biz

Tweet me @julesserkin listen to @BusinessBunker show live every Tuesday 1pm on www.channelradio.co.uk

Thursday 28th 10am at Lenleys, guest speaker Alex Waterton of @F-Keys Microsoft training. Details of this free networking Tweetup & others www.kentbusinesstweetup.co.uk @Kenttweetups

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