Clegg announces winners of RGF bids

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced nine companies in the North West were successful in first round bids to the Government's £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund.

The first round of the RGF will see £450m of public investment support 50 bids by companies and partnerships across England.

The Government said the RGF is a fund which is designed to encourage enterprise, growth and jobs in the private sector and support areas and communities that are dependent on the public sector.

Clegg said: "I was bowled over by the quality of the bids. This money will now help create and safeguard jobs in some of the communities worst hit by the economic downturn.

"Today is a step towards rebalancing our economy away from an unhealthy overreliance on a small number of industries and a few areas. We need to spread opportunity across the whole country, drawing on our many talents. I know that with the right support these businesses can work with their communities and together play their part in leading the country back into prosperity."

Bruntwood, Manchester Science Parks and Manchester City Council have won funding towards the conversion of the former Royal Eye Hospital on Oxford Road in Manchester into a 100,000 sq ft biomedical centre, which will receive match funding through the European Regional Development Fund as well.

Designed by Sheppard Robson architects, the part renovation and part new-build will contain wet labs, offices, teaching rooms and research facilities.

Bruntwood said FREH, the working title for the £21m development, is due for completion in summer 2013.

The developer added that an international Clinical Research Organisation and a well known training provider are in discussions to occupy over half of the biomedical centre of excellence, but there will be 25,000 sq ft of space set aside for research led companies.

The FREH will also include amongst its customers TrusTECH and the North West NHS Innovation Service.

On receiving the news of the government funding, Mike Oglesby, chairman of Bruntwood, said: "We are delighted that we have received funding from the government in order to secure the development of this exciting new biomedical centre. This will be a world leading facility attracting investment into the UK, providing space for NHS, private sector and university spin outs as they grow on from incubator facilities. And most importantly creating vital employment in Manchester."

A new name for the development will be announced in the summer.

Muse Developments and Tameside Council were also successful at bidding for a Regional Growth Fund grant to deliver a 25-acre industrial-led scheme at Ashton Moss, known as Plot 3000

The scheme has fundamental issues around remediation as it contains peat and requires public sector funding to prepare for development.

Darran Lawless, development director at Muse Developments, said: "We can confirm that Muse has been successful in securing the initial approval from the RGF with regards to further expansion at Ashton Moss, which is great news. The details are commercially sensitive at this time but the funding will assist in delivering an occupiers need for expansion on a major strategic employment site at Ashton."

Haulage giant The Stobart Group and provider of industrial and distribution buildings, ProLogis, with Halton Council as the administrator, were also given approval on a bid for the expansion of Mersey Multimodal Gateway (3MG) into major logistic operation at Ditton in Widnes, which has estimated total cost of £92m.

The other companies successful in the first round of bids in the North West include:

  • Ames Goldsmith UK – The Kirkby-based chemicals company is planning a new industrial facility and equipment
  • Bentley Motors – The car manufacturer plans a new training centre on its Crewe site for recruitment and training of employees
  • Holroyd Precision and sister companies – development of a new factory, R&D laboratory and HQ office facility in Rochdale
  • Liverpool Echo – The newspaper won a bid for the creation of a fund aimed at small businesses
  • Pilkington UK – To help the St Helens glass manufacturer compete more successfully in the European market, the company has won funding towards new equipment
  • Tygavac – The Rochdale-based supplier of vacuum bagging materials plans a new manufacturing plant

The grants in the North West are worth £24.5m in total and the Government forecasts the funding will help towards creating around 5,533 direct jobs and 2,279 indirect jobs in the region.

The successful bids will now be subject to a due diligence process, which will establish whether the Government is confident that the organisations can deliver on the proposals in their bid and be agreed through contract.

There were no successful bids in Lancashire during the first round. Bids to support building a new tram network in Preston, Blackpool's Talbot Gateway regeneration plan by Muse and the £50m Burnley Bridge business park at Hapton by the Eshton Group, were all overlooked on this occasion.

The Government said the second round of the RGF opens to bids today, Tuesday 12 April, which will aim to allocate the remainder of the fund, totalling nearly £1bn.

The Government did not disclose details of the unsuccessful bidders and said it will not be releasing them, but added some of the bidders unsuccessful in round one may wish to come back with stronger bids in round two.

The £450m being invested by the Government through the first round of the RGF is expected to leverage more than £2.5bn of private sector investment.

Business Secretary Vince Cable added: "Supporting job creation in the regions is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities.

"We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to this first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country to expand and create thousands of new jobs.

"The Regional Growth Fund is a competitive fund and we wanted to see proposals that created jobs in the private sector, in areas of deprivation and that is at risk of suffering from public sector cuts. I'm confident that the successful bids we have chosen will deliver on this."

The Government plans a series of road shows across England to speak with businesses and organisations with an interest in submitting a bid to advise them on all aspects of the fund.

The closing date for round two is 12pm on 1 July 2011.

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UPDATE: Adds comment from Bruntwood

By Ed

Good news and some good projects supported. But I seem to remember the now abolished NWDA used to give £400 million a year …

By Chris B

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