ESIF, ERDF, ESF, Public Procurement, State Aids…
Are you confused by all the acronyms? Want to access EU funding? And understand how?
Hopefully this blog will clear the fog, if only a little – but enough to help you.
Liverpool City Region (LCR) has been allocated a dedicated amount of £192m from the national England European Programmes, covering the European Regional Development and Social Funds – or ERDF and ESF.
To help focus the money on bigger and more transformational projects, local partners have been working together to define a strategy – the European Structural and Investment Funds Strategy (ESIF) – to ensure that funded projects deliver in line with local economic needs. So, the Innovation Plan, the Enterprise Strategy, the Low Carbon Action Plan, the Superport Plan, the Strategic Economic Plan among others all inform the ESIF Strategy.
These funds, through a bidding process, will be allocated to projects, led by local partners, often working together in consortia, to help local businesses and people grow their business, create jobs, access training and employment support, increase business innovation, support the transition to a low carbon economy and deliver sustainable local transport.
Who are the LCR ESIF Partners?
While the management of ERDF and ESF rest with Government, the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership ESIF Committee ensures that project proposals align with our local economic development priorities, informed by LCR strategies and plans.
The Committee is jointly chaired by the Combined Authority and the Liverpool City Region LEP, and brings together representatives from local authorities, higher and further education, the private sector, third sector, environmental, transport and trade unions. Given the length of EU investment in LCR, we are used to working together in the interest of the City Region.
So how do you access the money?
Critically important is whether your project fits with Liverpool City Region EU strategy. This is operated through a rolling process of Open Calls (ERDF and ESF) and predetermined procurement (ESF) via approved agencies (Skills Funding Agency, DWP and the Big Lottery). All Open Calls are published by Government on the gov.uk website. Any call is also published on the LEP website – so check it regularly.
This is probably where EU funding becomes most complicated as there are detailed rules that have to be followed and not all projects will be eligible or fit with our local EU strategy. There are detailed rules on state aids, procurement and publicity to follow by any applicant, a requirement for co-funding of at least 50% and only certain projects will be eligible.
Both businesses and individuals are most likely to access ERDF funded projects through intermediaries (see below). If you do have a project idea, please contact the LEP (email@example.com or 0151 237 3969) so that we can log your interest and discuss eligibility.
European Regional Development Fund
What has been funded so far to help local businesses?
We have so far allocated ERDF funding to 5 projects, which will support local businesses:
– LCR Integrated Business Support
– New Markets 2
– The Enterprise Hub
– Sensor City
These projects are focused on helping local businesses expand, export more and access expertise in our local universities to innovate and develop new products, processes and/or services. Liverpool City Region also needs more businesses, so we now have a dedicated Enterprise Hub to support would-be entrepreneurs.
So if you are an existing business or an individual wishing to start a company, and you wish to access EU funded business support, contact the Local Growth Hub where our business advisors will be able to guide you to the best business support available: much will be funded by the ERDF and some of this business support will require you to make a contribution.
All these projects can be accessed via the Local Growth Hub.
New ERDF calls now open
The next round of ERDF calls in the areas of business support, low carbon (energy) and innovation (digital) are now open.
Details of these can be found on the LEP website here or contact us on 0151 237 3969.
European Social Fund
An update on ESF projects will follow shortly and any enquiries should be directed to Angela Woodward on 0151 237 3894 or Angela.Woodward@liverpoollep.org
Pernille Kousgaard, EU Programme 2014-2020 Consultant