Access to Finance Plus launched to support SMEs across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly


Local businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly now have access to a proven pathway to securing financial support thanks to the re-launch of the previously successful ‘Access to Finance’ programme.

The programme, which was designed and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice, originated in 2017 to address some of the barriers to growth experienced by SMEs such as accessing finance and limited financial management skills.

Between 2017 and June 2023 the Access to Finance programme supported over 2,800 businesses across the county, helping local businesses raise over £40 million from over 120 different finance providers.

With funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and on behalf of the Growth Hub, Access to Finance Plus builds on that successful programme and will continue supporting SME businesses across the region from October 2023.

Access To Finance Plus (A2F+) is designed to assist both new and established businesses in making informed financial decisions. It caters to businesses at all stages, from those starting their growth journey to established companies seeking support with investment decisions.

Alongside offering support to access a wide range of financial support, including grants, debt, asset finance, crowdfunding, equity investment, and blended raises.  The project also provides broader services including financial forecasting, pitch deck development, and post-investment support such as leadership, strategy, marketing and productivity improvement.

With a customised approach that includes online learning, interactive workshops, and one-to-one support, A2F+ tailors the support to meet the unique needs of each business with the help of dedicated Financial Specialists.

Jane Galsworthy, Managing Director of Oxford Innovation Advice comments, “As a company, we have been supporting businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly for over 12 years – enhancing the economy, lives and prosperity of communities and individuals across the Duchy. We are delighted to have the opportunity to continue delivering support to businesses in the region utilising UKSPF funding.

“We are proud of our work and the positive impact we have made on the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Access to Finance Plus will not only deliver sustainable results for local businesses, but it will also strengthen the funding ecosystem in the region and underpin economic prosperity.

“Small businesses have had to face multiple pressures from inflation, Covid, supply chain challenges and reduced consumer spending. It is now more important than ever that they have access to high-quality business support services and specialist expertise to help them achieve their growth potential. Most importantly, we want to ensure that small businesses are being supported to develop the strong financial skills and wider business expertise to secure external finance and turbocharge their future success.”

The Access to Finance Plus programme will support 125 businesses in its first year with practical expertise and advice and has ambitious plans to increase this number to over 380 in the second year.

Louis Gardner, Cornwall Council portfolio holder for economy, said: “Supporting businesses at whatever stage, from pre-start to mature organisations, so that they can demonstrate that they have a good strategy and sound business management skills is key to then helping them raise the finance to develop their full potential. Enabling businesses to access finance will help them to thrive and add value in the form of jobs and contributing to the growth of the Cornish economy.”

Access to Finance Plus will be accessed through a mix of workshops and tailored one-to-one support. The local team will provide assistance with everything from writing a business plan and financial forecasting to identifying and applying for the most appropriate source of funding.

Beneficiaries of the programme will also have access to a suite of resources and tools. This includes GROWTHmapper® – the UK’s leading business diagnostic tool – which provides valuable insights into the perceived strengths and weaknesses of a business, so that support can be tailored to the needs of each client.

The Access to Finance Plus programme is delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice on behalf of the Growth Hub, and is funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as part of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme. The Fund’s mission is to unlock the potential of businesses in the region, contributing to a more resilient, equitable, and prosperous local economy.

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