Sunderland business support programme announced

Sunderland City Council

A RAFT of support to spur on business growth across Sunderland has been announced today [Wednesday, November 21].

Sunderland City Council has unveiled a range of significant support programmes, that are designed to stimulate economic development, working with business-focused delivery partners to advance its local priorities, as well as supporting regional schemes that will be offered to businesses across the North East. 

Part of a wider suite of UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) projects, the new business programmes will support growing enterprises and pre-start and start-ups with funding being channelled to accelerate business growth. 

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “These new projects will provide a major boost to the city’s economy, ensuring our entrepreneurs and businesses have all of the tools required to unlock their potential and continue growing.

“Our business community has demonstrated incredible resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity over the last few years, and this support – we hope – will act as a catalyst for further growth as they look to the future and take positive decisions to spur on growth.”

The UKSPF is part of Government’s Levelling Up agenda, aiming to improve the standard of living across the UK by investing in communities, supporting local businesses, people, and skills. Local authorities have been able to channel funding into areas of greatest priority, with Sunderland City Council taking on board the feedback of local organisations and companies to agree how funding could be best used to support their development.

Long-established business support provider, the North East BIC, will continue its work to support the development of the social economy within the city through the Wear Together Initiative, working with local residents and groups to start a social enterprise or co-operative and help the city’s social enterprises to develop and grow. They will also deliver the Enterprising Sunderland programme (part of a consortium of Sunderland based organisations), which will provide intensive and customised support to people and organisations wishing to pursue their business idea further, through information, advice and guidance, one to one advice, support and mentoring, peer group learning and the provision of curated and enabled self-help.

Paul McEldon OBE, chief executive of the BIC, said: “The expansion of our social enterprise and start-up support services is fantastic news for the city.

“It will provide a much-needed boost to the co-operatives and social entrepreneurs driving real positive change in our communities as well as helping stimulate economic growth by helping more residents realise their dreams of setting up and growing their own businesses. We can’t wait to get both of the initiatives off the ground.”

Working with partners, the University of Sunderland will deliver a range of innovation support initiatives to businesses in the city to catalyse and support business growth across a range of sectors, and address gaps in business innovation capacity and capability.

UMi Commercial Ltd, an organisation known for its support of SMEs, is leading on the delivery of a capital grant scheme for Sunderland businesses.  Grants will be used to support business growth through the purchase of capital equipment that will lead to job creation, and Sunderland is one of a number of local authority areas in the North East where the funding will be available. 

Business & IP Centre North East will continue to deliver its BIPC Local in Sunderland, an established service that works with residents and businesses to deliver pre-start, start-up and business growth support. As elsewhere in the region, grants will also now be available to fund the costs of engaging with expert consultants to support business development.

Specific sector support schemes include the North East Screen Industries Programme, which is being administered by North East Screen, the region’s screen industries development agency and is also being rolled out in other local authority areas.  The programme is focused on economic recovery, regeneration, and growth through the sustainable development of the screen industries sector across the region. 

Building on Sunderland’s growing reputation as a leading global location for esports, an Esports Business Cluster programme, delivered by the British Esports Federation and Sunderland Software City, will help create a strategic network that brings together esports businesses and offer acceleration and growth opportunities for businesses.

Local Automotive Business Support (LABS) will also be available to Sunderland based businesses from  the North East Automotive Alliance Limited, providing a comprehensive, flexible and responsive package of support delivering against the strategic needs of Sunderland based businesses within the automotive sector and associated supply chains.

It is also expected that a business decarbonisation scheme will be launched soon, building on the success of the previous BREEZ scheme, delivering tailored energy efficiency support to more than 60 SMEs and community groups, including grants to support with the cost of installing improvements which deliver energy and carbon savings. 

In all, over £5m UKSPF grant is being invested in nine business support packages that will be delivered across Sunderland through to March 2025. Applications from business support providers exceeded the amount of funding available so a thorough assessment was conducted to ensure all programmes align with the city’s priorities and ensure best value for money.

To find out more, please visit or contact the Council’s Business Investment Team via

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