Recipe for Success (R4S) is an ERDF-funded business growth support programme for food businesses, running once a year over a three-month period.
The programme is run by the Greater Manchester (GM) Business Growth Hub, which is accountable to the GM Local Enterprise Partnership.
The programme provides a series of food and drink specific workshops and networking events designed to help SMEs to succeed. The latest programme included:
• Food safety systems (e.g. HACCP, SALSA and BRC)
• Product development
• Branding and graphic design
• Selling online and raising the profile of the company
• Preparing for and approaching buyers
• Meeting a buyer from a UK supermarket
• Practice pitching with feedback from ex-buyers
• Export Markets by international trade advisors
• End of programme networking event (attended by regional press)
• 1-2-1 support via Food and drink specialist advisors
Workshops are mainly run by external industry experts. Businesses must attend at least 3 but can attend all according to business needs.
The beneficiaries of the programme are SMEs within GM who are eligible for ERDF assistance and are considered to have growth potential (either increased turnover of £250,000, 20% increase in sales or 5 new jobs created over the 3 years following participation). Regional commercial business service providers and supermarket buyers also benefit by gaining access to appropriate food SMEs.
The programme was conceived after feedback from supermarket buyers that many food SMEs who approach them are ‘not ready' to supply them. The programme has since evolved through feedback from business participants.
Precise costs are difficult to calculate as the programme is one of many business support activities undertaken by the Business Growth Hub. Four people work part-time on the programme among other duties. Excluding human resources, the programme is estimated to cost £123 (139 euros) per participant.
Evidence of success
Up to July 2018, the programme helped create:
• 85 new jobs in the region
• 2 new products to the UK market
• 9 new products to the firm
• £10m in additional sales
• 1 corporate buy out
• Multiple Angel investments and crowdfunding secured
• 6 TV appearances (including Dragons den and MasterChef)
• Multiple award-winning products
• A thriving/connected F&D network across the region
NB: impacts are much higher as data is still being gathered due to the legacy aspect of the programme.
Initial challenges such as identifying the most convenient location and times for busy entrepreneurs have been overcome. A challenge has been meeting the ERDF reporting requirements for each business who attends a workshop as the programme grows and identifying appropriate experts to lead workshops.
Potential for learning or transfer
The programme is a successful example of how a regional agency can successfully engage with a large number of food SMEs in a cost-effective way. By using industry experts and offering the opportunity to meet a buyer from a large food company, the programme attracts an increasing number of businesses each year. Moreover, by bringing SMEs together, B2B networking and learning opportunities are created. The programme can also help identify businesses who would be suitable for other kinds of support such as grant funding.
As a model, it should be replicable if a coordinating organisation or individuals with a good understanding of the commercial food sector exist. As it is a relatively short but periodic intervention, the programme can be iteratively improved in each region to account for local specificities.