A regional Investment Plan for the South West Wales region

Business Support for Growth and Innovation

What is the purpose of this funding?

The Enhanced Business Support for Growth and Innovation Project is one of 5 Anchor Projects that form part of NPTCBC’s delivery of our allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). This project will build on and dovetail with existing business support programmes by meeting identified gaps in provision, while maintaining the flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to the needs of businesses in this challenging economic climate.

We believe, that in order to reduce inequalities between communities, funding priorities should be:

  • Developing a well-coordinated gateway to business support
  • Building long-term resilience within the local economy by supporting business start-ups and existing businesses alike
  • Supporting the sustainability of our valley communities through the start-up and development of businesses in the foundational economy and social businesses to create local employment
  • Developing and supporting a culture of innovation within local SMEs
  • Responding to climate change by providing support to mitigate its impacts
  • Maximising the benefits for local businesses of major developments and/or investments, e.g. Global Centre of Rail Excellence, the Celtic Freeport bid, the rolling out of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) in the Celtic Sea, Wildfox Resorts Afan Valley
  • Maximising the value of the Neath Port Talbot pound by increasing the ability of local SMEs to secure public sector contracts
  • Developing stronger partnerships with business and between businesses to facilitate networking, sharing of best practice, connecting to new markets and identifying common concerns, etc.

Where will the funding be targeted?

The funding will ensure that we’re able to build on our current business support programmes by meeting identified gaps in provision. Support will be available to all businesses in Neath Port Talbot, with a specific focus on the following key sectors:

  • Construction
  • Creative & Media
  • Energy/Environmental/Renewables
  • Engineering
  • ICT
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Services
  • Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure.

Additional activity will be targeted at businesses in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and those operating in what’s known as the ‘foundational economy’ (businesses that provide essential goods and services to support everyday life).

Manufacturing and engineering businesses continue to form a significant part of the local economy, accounting for 25% of NPT’s total output compared with 17% across Wales and 10% across the UK. These sectors are considered key drivers of economic growth and diversification, based on new and emerging technologies.

Businesses in the foundational economy supply the goods and services that everyone in the community relies upon. These businesses include those in health and care, food production, housing, energy, construction, tourism and retail. Often the backbone of the local economy, they provide much-needed employment and income for many households in the most deprived communities. Estimates suggest that the foundational economy accounts for around 40% of jobs in Wales and £1 of every £3 spent. The pressures all businesses are facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis are likely to be more keenly felt by those in the foundational economy.

Geographically, funding will target businesses in two distinct areas of economic activity. The first is the area along the M4 corridor encompassing the conurbations of Port Talbot and Neath. This area covers a number of business parks and industrial estates, key employment sites such as Tata Steel and significant recent developments such as the University of Wales Bay Campus and the Bay Technology Centre.

The second area is centred on the Afan, Dulais, Neath, Swansea and Amman valleys. Some of the most deprived communities in NPT are found in these valleys, being the most severely hit by deindustrialisation after the collapse of the region’s mining industry. Many continue to be disadvantaged due to a lack of local employment opportunities and poor transport infrastructure and services. Businesses in the foundational economy are therefore critical to the prosperity of these areas.


How will the funding be spent?

A total of £4.8 million has been ring-fenced for this project. The economic climate in which the funding has been allocated is both challenging and uncertain. Therefore, all activity being supported by the funding has been developed with the flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to the needs of businesses.

Delivery of this funding in Neath Port Talbot will be focused on 5 key areas:

  • Supporting indigenous growth in key sectors
  • Supporting the foundational economy
  • Providing financial and specialist support
  • Undertaking feasibility studies
  • Developing and implementing social value policies.

Activity is planned as follows:

  • Grant fund – Grants of between £500 and £50,000 will be available for both capital and revenue investment projects for new business start-ups, existing businesses and inward investors.
  • Supporting innovation and growth in key sectors – Businesses will be able to take advantage of a specialist diagnostic service, which will help them identify the steps they need to take to achieve their growth potential.
  • Supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs – Activity will focus on highlighting to students the option of going into business for one’s self, showcasing NPT as a location in which to set up business and the support available.
  • Local supply chain assessment for Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW) – Developing offshore wind technology presents a transformational opportunity to create a new manufacturing industry in NPT. This work will investigate the potential local supply chain for FLOW.
  • Clean Growth Hubs Phase 2 – An assessment will be made of the commercial development opportunities of further carbon storage facilities, in addition to the ones identified at Margam and Harbourside during Phase 1.
  • Strategic positioning – Work will be completed to produce and evidence NPT’s strategic positioning and potential economic offering, as a means of showcasing the area to investors and supporting future funding bids.
  • Profiling innovation and economic opportunities – A scoping study of current and future opportunities in NPT to attract inward investment from outside the authority and facilitate the development and expansion of local businesses.
  • Specialist support – Providing a tool box of support to meet specific business and/or sector needs. Activity will include:
    • Low carbon energy and resource efficiency audits
    • Operational reviews
    • Business forums
    • Digital technology audits
    • Social business development support
    • Social value policy development
    • Workshops – Organised by sector or by business subject
    • Events – Drop-in bootcamps, enterprise clubs, meet the buyer sessions
    • Local supply chain development.


Projected outcomes

Output Indicators

  • Number of enterprises receiving grants
  • Number of enterprises receiving non-financial support
  • Number of potential entrepreneurs assisted to be enterprise ready


Outcome Indicators

  • Jobs created as a result of support
  • Jobs safeguarded as a result of support
  • Number of new enterprises created as a result of support