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FUEL to help LCR’s tech businesses take off

By collaborating with organisations such as TechBlast, we can identify opportunities for businesses – and explore how they can take advantage

Next month will see dozens of high-potential businesses in the Liverpool City Region come together for FUEL.

They will hear from and meet organisations such as ours, as well as experienced figures from the region’s tech sector. We hope it is the start of a dialogue which will help them to access the right support to power sustainable growth.

Growth Platform’s remit is to coordinate and simplify the business support landscape across the city region, which can be quite complex: there are many organisations delivering different services to support businesses. Our role is to help businesses to navigate their way through that ecosystem.

We directly engage with businesses and also use comms such as our website and social media to send out messaging around key areas of support. These mainly fall into advice and guidance; access to finance; and skills and training.

Key clusters

We have some great strengths across the Liverpool City Region. We work with companies of all sizes and in any sector but predominantly our work falls into three key cluster areas of advanced manufacturing; health and life sciences; and creative, digital and tech.

Our High Growth Programme, for example, is an account management service for businesses with the potential to grow and scale. Our account managers carry out a growth diagnostic with those businesses – which is a bit like a health check – to identify where there might be weaknesses or barriers to market, but also opportunities for growth.

If you’re head-down in your business, you’re doing everything you can to grow – you can’t always know all the support and services that are out there, no matter how good at networking you are. The account managers help them to navigate this and identify needs within the business, then start to build and plan the support that might be needed – for example, around export and supply chains.

With our help, when they take that product or service to market, they have more chance of success than if they were trying to do it blindly.


But we can’t do it alone. We have dozens of partners to deliver this support across all areas of the business. For example, we help companies to access funding through the LCR Finance Hub; to unlock efficiency via the Edge Hill University’s Productivity & Innovation Centre; with Gather to develop business leadership skills; to access specialist tech accelerator and investor Baltic Ventures; to create IP with Innovate UK Edge; and increase diversity with the Race Equality Hub.

For the Mayor [Steve Rotheram], race equality and social justice has been a really important issue: he’s invested £2.3 million into the Race Equality Hub to start to address and then tackle the challenges across the city region. And that plays into business support very directly: we’ve got all the stats which prove that diverse businesses are more productive, impactful and successful.

For black, Asian and ethnic minority business owners there are many barriers to accessing support. It’s essential that business support is inclusive for all and in some instances, it can benefit to provide very bespoke support helping to break down these barriers with support from advisers who understand the challenges they are facing.

To tackle these issues, we are working very closely with the Race Equality Hub to develop a black business pilot: an account management service for 10 startup BAME businesses and 10 established businesses providing very bespoke support to help them to tackle the barriers that they’re facing. It’s all about bringing positive change through a long-term commitment rather than a short-term win.


In order for the ecosystem to work effectively, partnerships are absolutely critical: we need to be fully engaged with other key stakeholders. It just doesn’t work otherwise. We have a responsibility of directly engaging with businesses, but we also have this responsibility in ensuring that those key stakeholders in the ecosystem are connected and aware of what each other is doing. Ultimately, we’re all there to support businesses to grow and impact the economy.

The newly formed Digital and Creative Cluster Board will also be feeding back into our policy makers on the needs of businesses providing insight into how the sector operates, opportunities for growth, innovation or investment across the cluster, as well as identifying opportunities for linkages between the board and the wider economy to drive productivity, investment and employment.

Our Growth for Good programme also raises awareness about what it means to be a good business: we don’t want growth at the expense of other things. Are we creating ethical and purpose-driven businesses, which impact our local communities, create jobs and change the lives of our residents?

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which has replaced ERDF, also funds several programmes in the city region to support local businesses. We manage specific programmes such as Export and Supply Chain support, allowing us to use UKSPF funding to work with partners such as TechBlast and bring events like this to the region.

FUEL creates an opportunity to bring a range of tech businesses together and – in an environment that is very focused – showcase the activity and support available through us and our partners. And also draw out some of the challenges and opportunities that those businesses will face.

By co-designing and collaborating with organisations such as TechBlast, as well as local partners, we can identify opportunities for businesses – and explore how they can take advantage of them as we create a dialogue with them.

Reserve your FUEL Liverpool breakfast spot here