A new £5million programme, backed by local businesses, designed to create hundreds of new jobs for Derby city, and help local businesses develop and expand will be launched by Derby City Council later in the Spring.

The ‘Ascend’ programme is aimed at high (or high-potential) growth businesses and has been designed to provide expert growth advice for businesses in the city, alongside a £3m scale-up loan fund. It is part of the city’s wider Coronavirus economic recovery strategy which aims to stimulate business and investor confidence in the city and diversify the local economy.

The scheme, which seeks to support up to 50 local businesses over the next two years, will be open to businesses based within eight miles of Derby city centre who commit to creating jobs for Derby residents, graduates, or students, and will be run alongside the University of Derby.

Businesses will be chosen to participate in the scheme and will then receive expert advice to help develop and implement their growth strategies and secure much needed investment where traditional finance options are not available.

An expert panel, including senior officials from the council and university, business advisors, investors and entrepreneurs, has been appointed to consider applications. David Nelson, Senior Partner at Smith Cooper, is a member of the programme’s selection panel. He comments:

“Derby is a fantastic city and home to some of the UK’s most ambitious and enterprising businesses – something which the Ascend programme seeks to fuel even further.”

“The Ascend programme will not only help bolster and diversify our local economy, but also help up and coming businesses thrive, providing them with opportunity to realise their ambitions and have a positive impact on the wider community.”

“As a local business owner and advisor, who is passionate about Derby, I am proud to be part of such a welcomed initiative.”

Gareth O’Donovan, Head of Economic Growth at Derby City Council, says:

“Derby City Council understands the importance of supporting its entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses to innovate and expand, which in turn will create sustainable employment for the people of Derby. That’s why we have committed to invest £5m over the next two years into the Ascend programme, which is the culmination of 12 months of hard-work and collaboration with partners across the city including entrepreneurs, investors, the University of Derby, and key professional services firms such as Smith Cooper.”

“We are delighted to be able to launch this unique initiative and look forward to supporting many of Derby’s brightest businesses alongside Smith Cooper and our other Ascend programme partners.”

Ascend will launch later in the spring but companies can already register their interest by emailing ascend@derby.gov.uk.