Programme closed but open for culture and heritage projects

The Cambridgeshire Fens Rural Development Programme LEADER fund is currently oversubscribed and will not be accepting new expressions of interest in Priorities 1-4, but will accept new applications for Priority 5- Culture and Heritage.

All current applications will continue to be processed as normal.  We anticipate that the latest any grant funding agreements will be signed is the 31 March 2019 and that all funds will be spent by December 2019.  The Cambridgeshire Fens may be allocated limited extra funding over the next twelve months.  Any further funding announcements will be made here.


Grow your Business through People,

A FREE interactive workshop designed to encourage businesses to think about business growth and developing their employees because:

 People are your greatest asset

Employing and developing the right people is crucial for sustainable growth

Failing to plan is planning to fail
Reasons to attend:

– key note address from Pat Carrington MBE: Investing in the Future – developing a skilled workforce

– hear from local companies Ellgia and Cambridge Commodities – growth success, workforce planning and how they develop their people

– take time to consider how your business could grow or diversify

– consider the skills required to attract and employ the right people

– take part in a fun, interactive and though-provoking workshop

– learn of the funding and business support available from Signpost 2 Grow and Cambridgeshire ACRE

– network with other local businesses over a buffet lunch

When: Tuesday 24 April, 9.30am-1.00pm

Where: Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral

FREE to attend, places are to be booked in advance

This event is organised by the Chamber’s Learning and Skills Sector and sponsored by City College Peterborough.

To book your free place simply reply to this email and include delegate names, or call 01733 370809.

Afterwards network with 100 exhibitors at the Celebration of Business Exhibition, join a drinks reception and hear from guest speakers.
interested in exhibiting? Visit for further information.

Helen Bosett

Sector Co-ordinator

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce

Tel: 01733 370809

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 Innovate UK Launches £10 Million Innovation Loans for SMEs

April 2018 Open Competition

Innovate UK has up to £10 million in innovation loans for UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out highly-innovative, game-changing projects.

This competition is part of the £50 million pilot Innovation Loans scheme introduced in autumn 2017 through Innovate UK (IUK). Innovation loans will be made through Innovate UK Loans Ltd; a wholly owned subsidiary of Innovate UK.

The scheme aims to provide finance to businesses that is affordable, patient and flexible for projects that have a clear route to commercial success. IUK is to offer up to £10 million in loans for highly innovative late stage projects with the best game changing and/or disruptive ideas or concepts. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Projects should aim to develop new products, processes or services (or innovative use of existing ones) believed to be significantly ahead of anything similar in the field. Proposals can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and any part of the economy.

This competition aims to help businesses overcome barriers to the best cutting edge, game changing innovations becoming a successful commercial reality. This includes making a considerable economic impact and/or resulting in significant, sustainable business growth. Projects must focus on commercialisation, growth or scale-up. Priority is given to proposals likely to lead to growth, gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export.

There is a total of £10 million available in this competition. Individual loans of between £100,000 and £1 million are available. Projects should last up to five years and are expected to start by December 2018.

The loans are aimed at innovative micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the UK that will be able to manage a loan, but may struggle to access finance from commercial lenders or schemes backed by the British Business Bank.

To take on an innovation loan for a project the business must:

  • be a UK based SME;
  • carry out the project in the UK.

The competition is now open with a deadline for registrations of 6 June 2018 and a closing date the following week on 13 June 2018.

This is the first in a series of three open loan competitions. A further two competitions are planned later in the year.

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) – Research and Innovation Call Open in Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough

Launch of Research and Innovation Call for proposals in Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP area.

A Research and Innovation Call for Proposals has been launched under the European Regional Development Fund stream of the European Structural and Investment Funds for Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough.

Grants from a minimum of £500,000 are available to run a project promoting research and innovation in the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP area, specifically promoting business investment in research and innovation.

Eligible activities covered by the Call include developing links and synergies between enterprises, research and development centres and the Higher Education sector, in particular promoting investment in product and service development, technology transfer, social innovation, eco-innovation, public service applications, demand stimulation, networking, clusters and open innovation through smart specialisation.

Other activities include supporting technological and applied research, pilot lines, early product validation actions, advance manufacturing capabilities and first production, in particular in key enabling technologies and diffusion of general purpose technologies.

The total budget for the call is £500,000. It is anticipated that funding will be awarded for up to three years and projects must cover the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough LEP area.

The deadline for outline applications is 20 April 2018.

Government Announces Support for Farmers and Growers in England’s Food Supply Chain

Funding and supplementary support is to be offered to create more security for dairy farmers.

The Government has announced a range of new measures, including compulsory milk contracts and a multi-million-pound fund, to provide greater security for England’s dairy farmers.

A Collaboration Fund of up to £10 million will be introduced as part of a series of measures to help farmers and small producers compete and thrive alongside larger businesses in the food supply chain.

The scheme will be designed in consultation with the farming industry and will work by uniting those interested in co-operation. The funding will help these groups to formally establish, develop or expand, so that farmers and growers can take advantage of new market opportunities to help their businesses prosper.

Collaboration between farmers can bring substantial economic benefits, enabling farmers to benefit from economies of scale, share knowledge and jointly market their produce.

Announcing the measures Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“This package of measures is designed to improve transparency and integrity within the food supply chain and to support collaborative business models where producers can come together to strengthen their position or work jointly on specific areas of work.

“Too often in the past, farmers have ended up being price takers and there have been too many instances where a lack of transparency in prices and charges by some processors has undermined the market. If we want a successful farming industry in the future then it is essential that we have properly functioning markets and that farmers receive a fair share of the value of the food they produce.”

The new measures will apply to farmers and smaller producers in England and are expected to be brought in later in 2018. The collaboration fund will also open for applications later this year. Collaboration Fund

RDPE Growth Programme – Expression of Interest Deadline date Extended

You could be eligible for a Growth Programme grant if your business is carrying out a project to create jobs or bring more money into the rural economy.
There are 3 types of grant:

  • Business development
  • Food processing
  • Rural tourism infrastructure

The grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), which is part of the European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF). The whole aim of the RDPE Growth Programme is to create jobs and growth in the rural economy. Applications will need to show how projects will help do this. The expression of interest (EOI) deadline has been extended to 31 May 2018.

Time is running out to apply for rural project grants

The Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER Local Action Group (LAG) is keen to make sure communities, farmers and small businesses make full use of the grants on offer before we leave the EU.

Since the start of the current programme in 2015 the LAG has committed £630,000 of its £1.2million budget and has several exciting projects in the pipeline. The programme has supported a variety of projects including farming projects to increase productivity, tourism and business developments and a Village Hall.

All grants under the LEADER Programme must be allocated by March 2019. Anyone with a viable idea can contact or  Alison Earl 01353 865044

More information and case studies can be found via the website

“We’re particularly keen to hear about new project ideas that create jobs and boost the local economy but we need project ideas before we run out of time,” Kieran Carr, Programme Manager.

In addition to spending our current fund, we’re working hard to ensure politicians understand that in a post-Brexit future Cambridgeshire Fens needs financial support to grow the rural economy, create good jobs and support communities.

Defra Announces New Countryside Stewardship Funding for England’s Farmers and Land Managers

New Countryside Stewardship Offers have been introduced to help more farmers and land managers protect wildlife and enhance the environment.

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme has opened for farmers and land managers in England to request 2018 application packs.

This year there are four new funding strands open to applications, which are designed to be simpler and easier to apply for. They comprise:

  • Arable Offer
  • Lowland Grazing Offer
  • Mixed Farming Offer
  • Upland Offer

These new offers are being introduced for 2018, complementing the existing Higher Tier and Mid Tier offers, opening the scheme to more farmers and land managers. All landowners who make a valid application for any of the four new packages this year will be guaranteed funding though the scheme.

The programme is an opportunity for farmers new to Countryside Stewardship, or those coming out of previous stewardship agreements, to sign up for an agreement that will be guaranteed for its lifetime, to protect wildlife, boost biodiversity and deliver environmental benefits for their local communities.

Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“The new Countryside Stewardship offers available this year are much simpler to apply for and cover a full range of different farm types, so farmers can deliver environmental benefits wherever and whatever they farm.

“My message to farmers who’ve been put off Countryside Stewardship in the last few rounds is to take another look and see what’s on offer this year. We’ve listened to farmers and we’ve simplified the offering to create a universal scheme to appeal to farmers new to stewardship and those coming out of ELS so they can continue the good work on their farms.”

Farmers and land managers have until 31 May 2018 to request an application pack.

Environment Secretary Plans for New Farming Subsidy Post Brexit

Michael Gove has indicated that the Common Agricultural Policy will be replaced with new farming subsidies once the UK leaves the European Union.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, has suggested that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be replaced by a new ‘green farming’ system. The minister believes the current CAP system, whereby 80% of subsidies (around £2.1 billion a year in the UK, via the Basic Payment Scheme), is flawed.

The new plans amount to reforming the current subsidy regime, moving to a system where payments are made according to the environmental benefits that farmers and landowners deliver, rather than the amount of land owned.

The fresh regime is likely to be phased in over a five-year transition period and is expected to incentivise farmers and landowners to embrace practices such as:

  • planting woodland;
  • providing new habitats for wildlife;
  • increasing biodiversity;
  • contributing to improved water quality; and
  • returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.

Michael Gove said:

“I believe we should help landowners and managers to make the transition from our current system of subsidy to a new approach of public money for public goods over time.

“We have guaranteed that the amount we allocate to farming support – in cash terms – will be protected throughout and beyond this [transition] period right up until the end of this Parliament in 2022.

“We will continue support for Countryside Stewardship agreements entered into before we leave the EU and we will ensure that no-one in an existing scheme is unfairly disadvantaged when we transition to new arrangements. We will pay the 2019 BPS scheme on the same basis as we do now.

“I then envisage guaranteeing that BPS payments continue for a transition period in England, which should last a number of years beyond the implementation period, depending on consultation.

“During these years, we propose to first reduce the largest BPS payments in England. We could do this through a straight cap at a maximum level or through a sliding scale of reductions, to the largest payments first. After that transition, we will replace BPS with a system of public money for public goods.”

Source: Defra, 05/01/2018