Shared Intelligence have partnered with 31ten Consulting to deliver feasibility studies, options appraisals and business cases for the development of local authority economic development funds. These funds would be designed to provide a range of finance, including loans and grants. We worked with three local authorities across these projects: Surrey County Council; Herefordshire Council; and Norfolk County Council.

Feasibility study and development of options

In each of these projects, our research began by identifying the grounds for establishing a fund. The first part of this process is to identify what funds are already on offer to businesses within the local authority area. This includes national, regional and local funding sources.

Nationally, the main provider of funding is UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which operates a number of programmes and mechanisms. Other examples include Government funding through the British Business Bank, and funds which promote international trade such as those provided by UK Export Finance. Examples of regional and local funding include the Midlands Engine Investment Fund in the Midlands Engine partnership area, and BEE Anglia in Norfolk and Suffolk.

We then analysed the funding landscape in the areas, identifying any gaps in terms of availability of funding. This could be a gap in terms of the type of company which can access funding, or the type of funding available e.g. a lack of available revenue funding.

We also engaged with businesses to identify what the demand for funding was, and what type of funding was most in demand. This involved a number of stakeholder interviews with businesses and membership organisations such as local chambers of commerce.

Having identified the funding landscape and the demand from businesses, we developed research reports to present recommendations of how our clients could target these funds. These reports used our market analysis, along with analysis of the local economy and council strategies, to demonstrate how our clients could use an investment fund to meet their objectives.

Business case

Shared Intelligence also provided support on the development of business cases for the funds described above, specifically on the development of the economic case. This involved developing a cost benefit analysis (CBA) across a number of options for the structure of the fund in order to determine each options potential value for money. The CBA was developed in like with Treasury Green Book recommendations and sought to quantify the value of benefits such as jobs created and productivity gains.

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