How do you spend £50k pa on taxis? Join an RDA…..

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 - Uncategorized

Something that amazed me when I first moved back to Wales was the reliance on grant based business culture:

  • Need to put a business plan together? Then there’s a grant for that….
  • Need to a financial review? There’s a grant for that….
  • Need to employ staff? There’s a grant for that….
  • Need to train those staff? There’s a grant for that….
  • Need to media launch your new business? There’s a grant for that….
  • Want to make sure your carbon emissions are low, now or again next year? There’s a grant for them both, and you can have another grant every year!
  • The grant culture is so endemic at times here, that its surprising that anything gets off the ground, and the first thing potential customer companies ask is – is there a grant for that? I recently advised an Ecademist to avoid the training sector in Wales – its so Euro grant reliant, there are three times as many registered trainers in South Wales as there are in the Bristol market, which is twice its economic scale

    I had a conversation with a lady in a well know local authorities business development team nine months ago about available office premises in her area. Her response: I’m sorry, I can’t tell you what premises are available at present, only because I am instructed to send you a form to apply for a grant, and the consultant you employ can tell you!

    I was always impressed by Sussex Enterprise when I lived in Kent, the local merger in Sussex of the RDA, Council and Chambers of Commerce into one business focused agency and club: if you did business in Sussex, it was and probably still is the thing to join. I always wondered until now why Kent didn’t have a similar set-up – now I know what went on at SEEDA!

    Grants – are they helpful to business culture, or not? I think in theory probably yes, but in application its a kind of pigs feasting breakfast, with poorly defined objectives which are rarely measured.

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