Derby City Council to launch £5 million business growth programme


Derby City Council is to launch a £5 million programme to help businesses in the city innovate and expand, creating hundreds of new jobs for the city.

The authority has developed its Ascend programme as part of the city’s coronavirus economic recovery strategy – devised to ensure that Derby can build back successfully after the COVID-19 pandemic. It will offer high-quality bespoke growth advice to business, as well as a £3m scale-up loan fund.

Ascend will be run with assistance from the University of Derby and will support ambitious local companies to develop and implement growth plans and secure investment.

Luxury doughnut-maker Project D, which has recently created 100 jobs and moved into a new bakery in Spondon, has been chosen to help pilot the project and will receive expert support to further develop its business.

The Ascend team is seeking to support up to 50 businesses over the next two years and has appointed an expert panel – including senior officials from the council and university, business advisors, investors and entrepreneurs – to consider applications.

Businesses chosen to participate in the scheme will receive expert assistance to develop and implement their growth strategies, and where appropriate prepare an investment case for equity investors or access loans for capital investment where traditional finance is not available.

The scheme will be open to businesses based within eight miles of Derby city centre who commit to creating jobs for Derby residents, graduates or students. It will officially launch later in the spring but companies can already register their interest by emailing

The University of Derby will help deliver learning and development within businesses chosen to take part in the programme.

The Derby economic recovery strategy, of which Ascend is a part, has three core aims – to stimulate business and investor confidence in the city, diversify the local economy and enable decarbonisation.

Other major initiatives within the city’s economic recovery strategy include:

  • Supporting the development of the £300 million SmartParc food campus on the former Celanese site, near Spondon, which will create up to 5,000 jobs;
  • Developing a new 3,500-capacity city centre performance venue as part of the £200 million redevelopment of the Becketwell area by Leeds-based St James Securities, in a scheme which will create more than 2,000 jobs;
  • Declaring the city’s ambition to be a centre for future fuels technology and supporting the establishment of a new £15 million Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Infinity Park;
  • Creating the innovative Derby Market Place al fresco dining experience to support local hospitality businesses.



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