Citylife Business Support is a new service for SMEs who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. Funded though the £1.5 million Capacity Fund that was granted to Newcastle City Council by the North of Tyne Combined Authority. Business & IP Centre Newcastle and NewcastleGateshead Initiative have developed a package of free support that will focus on enabling businesses to develop and implement new models of delivery to help them recover and plan for their future.
Eligible SMEs can access:
- Up to eight hours of free support from Business & IP Centre Newcastle (BIPC) Citylife experts.
- Workshops tailored to specific business needs.
- A free events programme based on current business challenges, the funding landscape, resilience, and innovation
The project will run until March 2021.
Who can apply?
To be eligible, a business must:
- Be a small or medium-sized enterprise, located within the local authority areas of Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside. Unfortunately, businesses located outside of these areas cannot access this support.
- Must have been trading on and before 11th March 2020.
To be classed as an SME a business must meet the following criteria:
- Average number of employees during a financial year must not exceed 250.
- Annual Turnover must not exceed £36m.
- Balance Sheet total must not exceed £18m.
What support can I get?
BIPC Newcastle’s Citylife experts are available to provide eight hours of free advice tailored to individual needs. This could be one-to-one advice and support, delivered online or in person, or it could be a project or piece of work that they would carry-out on your behalf.
Businesses can draw on the experience of more than 20 experts who can support them to re-position their business activities. Advice ranges from digital and online capabilities, business finance and cash flow, access to new contracts and market opportunities, employment law, continuity planning and re-focusing business operations. What makes this service different is that is flexible and based on intelligence gathered from the SMEs themselves.
All experts provide at least one free initial session but, in addition, you can access up to eight hours of free support. You can access this from one expert or split your 8 hours between up to two experts. The service is flexible, providing access to a range of experts to suit the needs of your business.
Who are the Citylife experts?
The Citylife experts are small businesses or business support organisations who have worked in partnership with BIPC Newcastle, through the Centre’s Experts-in-Residence programme, or have delivered and supported workshops and events organised by BIPC.
What if I don’t know what support I need?
If you are unsure about which experts might be most appropriate to provide you with support, the BIPC Team will help you to select an expert. You can get a free session with any of the experts, before using your eight additional hours, so if one expert can’t provide all of the help you need you can move-on and speak to another.
How do I apply?
- Go to our Experts-in-Residence page to find out which experts are best placed to provide you with the support you need. Experts participating in the Citylife project are identified. Other Experts-in-Residence featured are not participating in Citylife, as their services are already free to access.
- Complete the initial appointment form and submit it online, providing us with details of which experts you would like to see OR the type of support you require.
- BIPC will contact the expert you have chosen, or best-placed expert to provide the help you require. The expert will contact you directly to arrange a meeting (online or in-person).
- If you require further meetings or support, this will be agreed at your first meeting, along with a breakdown of the work that is required. The BIPC will then send you an application form to complete and sign and a short Business Eligibility form. These will be returned to us electronically, along with proof of identity (copy of driving licence or passport photo-page).
What happens next?
The BIPC will contact you to confirm your eligibility and authorise the expert to commence working with you. Your Expert will, then, be in touch to arrange to carry out the work agreed.
What happens after I have received support from the expert?
Once your expert has delivered the support agreed and you’ve signed-off as completed we will pay the Citylife grant into your business bank account, so that you can use it to pay the expert.
Does the Grant include VAT?
If your business is not registered for VAT, the grant will include the expert’s fee plus VAT. If you are registered for VAT, the grant will NOT include VAT and you will have to pay this element yourself.
Can I then get support from another expert?
If you have used your full eight hours of funded support from your expert, you cannot access additional grant-aided support from another – although all experts will be happy to provide one free advice session. If you have not used all of your eight-hour allocation, you can use the balance to seek help from another expert.
What happens if the support I need takes longer than eight hours to complete?
Larger projects of support can be undertaken but the Citylife Business Support scheme will only fund the first eight hours, provided by the expert. You would need to pay the balance when the work is completed. Larger schemes of support must be agreed at the initial experts meeting, prior to making an application.
How do I access the free online events programme?
SMEs will also have access to a free events programme, this will be primarily online but as social-distancing restrictions are eased we hope to be able to resume physical events. Our events are based on resilience and innovation and the challenges businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19. The events programme will be shaped around common themes and through the intelligence we gather directly from the SMEs we support. To keep up to date with our events programme visit this link.
If you have any questions about the scheme or would like to speak to someone to talk through how Citylife Business Support might be able to help you, contact us.
The Citylife Business Support programme is developed and supported by
The events programme will be organised in collaboration with the GX Project. The GX project, led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, provides a range of opportunities to North-East SMEs. GX is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).