Agenda item


            The Committee was reminded that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting in February, had agreed that Belfast City Council should lead on the submission of the application to UKSPF (Shared Prosperity Fund) for the 11-council Enterprise Support Service (ESS) model.  It had also been agreed that the Council should lead on the future development and delivery of the service, subject to additional due diligence and risk management work being undertaken.


            It was reported that a further update had been presented to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee in August providing additional detail on the progress to date on the procurement process and the funding drawdown and identifying an emerging risk due to delays in issuing the funding agreement/MoU by DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities).  In early September 2023, officers had received the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) setting out the terms and conditions of the funding offer and this was signed by the Chief Executive. 


            The Director of Economic Development advised that, having received the MoU, officers were able to proceed with the appointment of the contractors for the delivery of services to businesses, as well as the provision of support services such as marketing and communications and call handling.  Following completion of the procurement process, successful contractors included: 


        Engage and Foundation – Enterprise NI and Partners;

        Growth and Scaling – Derry City and Strabane District Council and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council – Deirdre Fitzpatrick and Associates;

        Growth and Scaling – Belfast City Council – Full Circle Management Solutions;

        Growth and Scaling – Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mid Ulster District Council and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council – Full Circle MS;

        Growth and Scaling – Antrim and North Down Borough Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Newry Mourne and Down District Council – Full Circle MS;

        Growth and Scaling – Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council – Mallusk Enterprise Park;

        Telehandling – Like Us NE; and

        Communications and Marketing – Ardmore.


            He informed the Committee that, following mobilisation of contracts across a number of work strands, it was expected that the go live date for service delivery would take place in early November.  Given delays in issuing the MoU, officers were working with contractors to identify how the Council could maximise the delivery of the service while acknowledging that not all support services and resources were yet fully functional.


            He advised that, as part of the mobilisation period, work had been undertaken to develop a new brand for the new service. The scoping exercise consisted of detailed surveys, focus groups and stakeholder workshops which led to the creation of a new brand/logo, 4 sub brands and brand guidelines.


            He outlined the selected brand Proposition as follows:


      ‘Go Succeed NI Business Support is a service to help potential entrepreneurs, new starts and existing businesses to maximise their potential and contribute to Northern Ireland’s economy. It provides would-be and existing businesses with flexible, tailored and easily accessible advice and support at any stage of their growth journey.’


            He explained that the brand Value is that Go Succeed was the go-to source of easily accessible advice and support for anyone starting or growing their business in NI.


            He highlighted that, to accommodate marketing messages aimed at the widest possible range of businesses, and to allow for promotion of the specific support offerings applicable to each level, a set of Go Succeed sub brands had been created.


            He advised that the formal launch of the brand and the new service was scheduled to take place on the 13th November in Belfast City Hall to mark the start of Global Entrepreneurship week.  


            The Director of Economic Development reported that, as part of the funding application to DLUHC, resources were secured for a number of staff roles in order to support programme delivery and provide appropriate management and oversight for funders and all council partners.


            He reminded the Committee that the service was being funded through the new Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).  This was the DLUHC fund that was established as a replacement for EU funding (ERDF and ESF).  One strand of funding focused on ‘Supporting Local Business’.  The Investment Plan for UKSPF in Northern Ireland was launched in December 2022.  At that time, the Plan proposed that a central component of the Supporting Local Business strand would be the 11 council Enterprise Support Service.  An indicative financial allocation of £17million - £12million programme delivery and £5million for small grants – was set aside for the service.  UKSPF funding was available to March 2025 so the initial programme period would run from Autumn 2023 to March 2025.


            He stated that the new service represented the ambition of all local authorities to deliver on our statutory responsibility around business start-up in a way that would make a real change over time, by working to address cultural attitudes towards entrepreneurship and helping more businesses to start, grow and scale across the region.  It could directly support the Belfast Agenda targets for job creation and economic growth and could also provide an important engagement mechanism to enhance business interaction with key investments, including those supported through City Deal.


The Committee noted the update on the Northern Ireland Entrepreneurship Support Service (ESS) and the planned go-live date for the new intervention and launch.


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