23 June 2020

Coast to Capital Head of Services, Malcolm Brabon explains how the Growth Hub supported local businesses throughout the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past three months, we have provided emergency guidance across our area through meaningful coaching and advice discussions with local businesses. Our small but highly dedicated Growth Hub team, which has doubled in size since March, have triaged over 500 enquiries, each facing unique challenges. The support we offer is free, impartial and government backed which has put us at the forefront of diagnosing business needs and signposting to reputable sources of information. This is supported by our network of experts (Growth Champions) and links to central government and the business support community, enabling us to provide some of the best guidance in the UK. We are proud that 93% of businesses surveyed reported that they were very satisfied with the service they received. This blog post highlights some of our initiatives during this difficult time.


Backing Business Grants


We worked closely alongside our Investment department to provide grants of £5,000 - £25,000 to 160 businesses totaling £1.98 million via our Backing Business Grants fund. This has helped businesses adapt, innovate or evolve their operations so that they can survive the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Despite the fund now being closed, an Expression of Interest form is available to submit on the Coast to Capital website in the case that future funding becomes available.


Trevor Hewitt, Managing Director of Clarity Accounting said:


"The grant received from Coast to Capital is enabling Clarity to set up a secure portal for the exchange of client information and documents. This is extremely useful when all staff are working remotely from the office and also provides the client with guarantees that their information remains absolutely secure"


1-2-1 Emergency Response Clinics


In addition to funding, we ran 1-2-1 Emergency Response Clinics. Our Growth Champions were on standby from 8:00am - 8:00pm over a number of weeks to speak with businesses on a range of topics through hour-long virtual meetings to help develop business resilience. These were in high demand from micro organisations, followed by small and medium enterprises across a range of sectors. In total, over 70 sessions were booked, the most popular being on the topic of Funding and Finance, as well as Innovation and Technology, Staffing and Human Resources and Mental Resilience.


An attendee said:


"Thank you for your call and advice. I found it really useful and motivating. It was really nice to know there was someone out there willing to help us during these difficult times"


Business Intelligence


We surveyed a large number of businesses to gain insight into the unique challenges being faced across our area. 75% of participants reported that COVID-19 is having a negative impact on their business, mostly due to postponement or cancellation of orders and or sales. A further 74% of these furloughed employees and/or made redundancies. The information gathered from these surveys is reported to The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy weekly so that the issues identified can be used by government to focus its efforts on recovery.




All members of our team have been liaising with business contacts and stakeholders to get a better understanding of the concerns businesses are facing as a direct result of the pandemic.


The University of Brighton's Centre for Change, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management hosted business resilience and recovery webinars. This four-part series attracted over 200 attendees who were interested in the themes that emerged from our 1-2-1 Emergency Clinics, such as The Digital Device Landscape, Crises Innovation, Digital Transformation and Exploiting Agility for Advantage.


An additional 200 individuals representing the tourism sector virtually participated in the Survive, Revive and Thrive Tourism in the Time of Coronavirus webinar series in partnership with Platf9rm, Experience West Sussex Partnership, Sussex Chamber of Commerce and South Downs National Park Authority. The recordings of these webinars can be watched here.


Lou Williams, Growth Manager at Coast to Capital said:


"This event was extremely well managed and facilitated and had an excellent selection of panel of experts. A great variety of businesses were used to demonstrate how they adapted and are preparing to re-open in accordance with social distancing management of property. It was also great to see such a good representation of our local MPs during discussions, Additionally, Visit Brighton's information was highly relevant and it is great to hear the plans in place to help tourism particularly in West Sussex area"




As businesses across the area prepare for recovery, we continue to provide coaching and advice. In our efforts to ensure you are are kept up to date on the latest information, we continuously update our website and twitter page with government initiatives, business support organisation and membership organisation materials. We have launched a tailored 1-2-1 Recovery Clinic service which aims to address specific challenges by linking businesses with our expert Growth Champions for free, hour-long discussions.


Over the coming months, we will be sharing the success stories from businesses that have survived through the pandemic. To access our full range of support, please complete our Request Form and to hear regular updates from us, subscribe to our newsletter.

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