Tailored advice to help SMEs to adapt to new challenges and safeguard jobs
Citylife Business Support was a service for SMEs who were adversely affected by COVID-19. Funded though the £1.5m Capacity Fund that was granted to Newcastle City Council by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, it was part of the city’s commitment to supporting businesses, voluntary and community organisations and unemployed residents who were adversely impacted by COVID-19.
The service was set up by extending and bringing together services and expertise from across the city. Delivery partners Business & IP Centre Newcastle and NewcastleGateshead Initiative developed a package of free support that focused on enabling businesses to develop and implement new models of delivery to help them recover and plan for their future.
Eligible SMEs accessed:
- Up to 8 hours of free support from Business & IP Centre Newcastle (BIPC) ‘Citylife Experts’.
- A free events programme based on current business challenges, the funding landscape, resilience, and innovation.
These Experts were from small businesses or business support organisations who had worked in partnership with BIPC Newcastle, through the centre’s ‘Experts in Residence’ programme, or had delivered and supported workshops and events organised by BIPC. They offered free one-to-one advice and support, delivered online or in person, as well as the option of carrying out a project or piece of work on a company’s behalf.
Businesses were able to draw on the experience of more than 20 experts and access an additional 8 hours of free support from up to 2 of the Citylife Experts. Advice available ranged from digital and online capabilities, business finance and cash flow, access to new contracts and market opportunities to employment law, continuity planning and re-focusing business operations.
To be eligible for support from a CityLife expert, a business had to be a small or medium-sized enterprise, located within the local authority areas of Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside and have been trading before 11 March 2020.
Free events programme
SMEs also had access to a free events programme, delivered by business leaders who shared their expertise on themes including resilience, innovation and the challenges businesses were facing as a result of COVID-19. The events programme was shaped around the intelligence we gathered directly from the SMEs we supported ensuring our approach met their needs.
The events programme was organised in collaboration with the GX Project. The GX project, led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, provided a range of opportunities to North East SMEs. GX was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
These events were open to businesses in the North East LEP region.
This project was delivered and supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, the Business & IP Centre Newcastle and NewcastleGateshead Initiative.