FAQ, SME Growth

Sme_programmes_graphic.fwWhat is the SME growth project?

This project aims to help SMEs in the North East LEP area (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham) to grow by helping companies to sell into the North East’s process sector and also assisting them with Energy Management.

What is the process sector?

Process companies can be defined as those using chemical technology to produce a whole range of products. This includes the chemical and petrochemical industries centred on Teesside and also the Pharmaceutical companies in Northumberland. The sector includes these companies as well as their considerable supply chain of companies.

How will SMEs be helped to sell into the process sector?

This project is being delivered by a membership organisation called the North East Process Industry Cluster ltd or NEPIC. This organisation has 100s of members in the regional process sector, and its supply chain, so has a unique understanding and network of connections within this cluster.  NEPIC will use these connections and knowledge to help project SMEs understand the needs of the cluster for products and services. In addition, NEPIC will facilitate the meeting of SME representatives with NEPIC members to help them sell into the sector.

How will the project assist with energy management?

NEPIC has expertise in energy management. We have found from previous experience that some SMEs, despite a significant energy usage, are not aware of how energy and therefore money could be saved. NEPIC will offer advice to companies on how to manage and save energy. Advice will also be given on carbon footprinting, which is becoming increasingly important when selling to larger customers.

How is this project funded?

The project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with the remainder supported by NEPIC.

Will companies receive grant support?

No grants will be available via this project; all help will be via meetings of various kinds. This help will be recorded and will be counted as ‘De Minimis’ state aid.

How long will the project last?

This project is funded throughout the calendar years 2016, 2017 & 2018.

What companies can apply to benefit from this project?

Any SME can apply to join this project, as long as it has a product or service that can be sold into the process industry sector. Also, the company must be willing to spend time engaging with NEPIC and have a likelihood of being helped to grow during the life of the project.

What is an SME?

This is a category of companies defined by their size. Any company employing fewer than 250 staff and with a turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro, is classified as an SME (small or medium sized enterprise).

How can a company see if it is eligible to join the project?

Any SME who is interested in this project should contact the Project Manager, Philip Aldridge who is based in the offices of RTC North in Sunderland. He can be contacted at philip.aldridge@nepic.co.uk or on 0191 516 4400.

Do companies have to join NEPIC to be eligible for this project?

It is not necessary to become a NEPIC member to benefit from this project.

What is the process for joining the project?

A member of the project team will visit the SME and explain how the project works and also assess whether the project is suitable for the SME. Part of this assessment will be via a structured diagnostic. Based on this meeting and the diagnostic the project team will decide whether the SME is eligible and would benefit from the projects’ intervention.

How will the project be delivered?

If the SME is deemed eligible a project manager will hold a meeting with the SME to determine a strategy for intervention. This will include giving advice to the company; setting up mentoring meetings; inviting the SME to specific NEPIC networking events; and the SME attending project specific events on selling and energy management. If appropriate, a NEPIC energy management specialist will also visit the company to undertake an Initial Diagnostic Review (IDR). This could be followed by further help to institute an energy management system if this is warranted.

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© Copyright. North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) 2015