District council launches £2million ‘innovation and resilience’ fund to boost East Devon businesses in Covid pandemic recovery

A new £2million fund designed to help local businesses prosper has been launched by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

The authority says the Innovation and Resilience Fund (IRF) – aimed at supporting economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic – is unlike any grant scheme it has run before.

Firms and entrepreneurs can apply for up to £50,000 each, or £150,000 for a collaborative bid.

The fund is designed to support ‘innovative’ projects that:

  • Support business diversification and the development of new and innovative products;
  • Enable carbon reductions and biodiversity enhancements;
  • Enable and safeguard high value jobs;
  • Offer inclusive opportunities to disadvantaged individuals.

EDDC deputy leader Councillor Paul Hayward, portfolio holder for economy, said: “This fund is urgently needed by local businesses and entrepreneurs to help them thrive, to support East Devon’s wider economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and to assist our town centres across the district to bounce back and adapt in these still-difficult times.

“The IRF is unlike any of the previous grant schemes the council have delivered previously.

“By helping businesses in our communities invest in transformational and innovative projects with clear social, economic and environmental benefits, we’re promoting a more sustainable recovery and helping those businesses become more resilient to future changes.

“I would urge all businesses in the East Devon area to take advantage of this unique opportunity and to consider how this funding might help your business, after the upheavals of the last 18 months. We look forward to receiving your applications and project ideas.”

Formerly known as Adaptation, Innovation and Resilience Fund, the IRF is made up of £1.08m in government funding and £1million match-funded by EDDC from its business rates retention scheme pilot.

Applicants must propose a specific project which will transform their business and support the local economy, along with a projection of the amount of grant funding they need.

To apply, businesses must first complete an expression of interest (EOI) using an online form. The EOI will be evaluated by the council’s economic development team.

Following a successful EOI, businesses must then develop a full bid application.

Help with developing the application is available at no cost from support agency, Business Information Point, on referral from the council.

Each application will be scored against policy objectives. Projects which propose match-funding will score more highly.

Projects will also be prioritised if they:

  • Are good value for money;
  • Mitigate against risks;
  • Commit to spend funding through local suppliers;
  • Are from ‘priority groups’ such as clean energy or sustainable transport, for example.

The fund was approved by EDDC’s cabinet on September 8.

For more information and to apply, visit the council’s website or read the frequently asked questions.

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