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Welcome to the Hot House: £11m project to boost business in England’s South

SOURCE: Andreas Klassen/Unsplash
Chichester University hothousing programme will stimulate business activity in the south of England.

The University of Chichester is leading an £11 million project to help businesses in the south of England prosper, guiding them through their growth phases and providing the necessary support to encourage new innovation.

Called the Business Hot House programme, the initiative supports some 500 startup entrepreneurs and over 1,000 large and small firms operating within the Coast to Capital Local Economic Partnership (LEP) area, which covers West Sussex and parts of East Sussex and East Surrey.

Hot House Manager Gareth Sear said the programme aims to create a strong economic ecosystem and a support system for businesses operating in the LEP region through “imaginative business partnerships, enterprise education, and support for start-ups”.

“This is one big programme of support led by several partners – the university, specialised business support providers, and local authorities – which will provide an all-encompassing programme of expertise.

“I urge business no matter how big or small to register an interest,” he said in the Chichester Observer.

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Founded in 2011, the Coast to Capital LEP is designed to determine local economic priorities and stimulate job creation within the local region, working closely with local businesses and strategic partners. The overall aim of the LEP is to achieve strong sustainable economic growth. 

The Business Hot House project will support this mission.

According to the Chichester Observer, the project will be delivered by the University of Chichester together with the Sussex Innovation Centre, Eastbourne and District Enterprise Agency, Brighton and Hove City Council, WSX Enterprise, Princes Trust, and YTKO Ltd.

The project is half funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), a funding vehicle set up by the European Union to stimulate economic growth by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, create jobs, and local community regenerations. SMEs in the Coast to Capital LEP contributed the other half, totalling £5.5 million, with approval from the Housing, Communities, and Local Government Ministry.

In addition, a further £800,000 has been pledged by the project’s strategic partners, namely the Princes Trust, West Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, and the Greater Brighton Economic Board. Other benefactors include the Mole Valley District Council, Lewes District Council, as well as district and borough councils Adur and Worthing, Arun, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, and Mid Sussex.

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The Business Hot House is, as its name suggests, built around the hothousing concept in agile working.

Hothousing is generally used to accelerate solution development through intense workshop sessions or boot camps and mentoring sessions involving an intimate group of participants. 

Now open for applications, the Chichester business hothousing initiative will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as startups, grow their ideas through intensive support from the Hot House teams.

Whether through ideation stage or prototyping, the programme gives its participants expert advice and access to the latest business knowledge and practical tools.

Depending on their requirements, participants can engage in a range of stimulating and challenging business and personal development activities, such as a two-day business startup boot camp, the business knowledge workshop series, the peer-to-peer workgroup series or business mentoring sessions led by experienced programme facilitators.

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A spokesman for the university said through the hothousing initiative, established businesses will learn ways to strengthen their practices to become profitable while the startups will gain from developing new ideas. 

“It will specifically focus on improving business leaders’ knowledge to increase productivity and innovation, which are areas highlighted by Coast to Capital as barriers to growth,” he said in the Chichester Observer.

University of Chichester Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Catherine Harper said the institution is best placed to run such a programme, with its experience, academic expertise and available resources.

“The business expertise available and facilities at the university – including our new £35million Tech Park – makes us the ideal authority to roll out the Business Hot House project to more enterprises which will only strengthen economic and social cohesion across the south of England.”