European Regional Development Fund

The UK is still a full member of the EU, and UK applicants are eligible for EU funding for at least two more years, until new arrangements are agreed. External funding team would urge potential applicants to make the most of the opportunity while it still exists and are here to help.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) focusses on supporting business competitiveness, creating jobs, investment in innovation and the low carbon economy. Across the programme, the aim is to create jobs and generate business growth. There is £34m ERDF funding available for projects in Norfolk and Suffolk up to 2020.

Most successful ERDF projects aim to support a number of businesses by providing grant schemes to support business growth, or a package of in-depth business support. Find out more about ERDF-funded grant schemes.

Case studies

Business support and grant schemes which have been awarded funding from the 2014-2020 ERDF programme include: BEE Anglia, a three-year programme which will provide free support to at least 1,000 SMEs across Suffolk and Norfolk to become more energy efficient; and Innovation New Anglia, a project built around engineering and scientific excellence to support businesses spanning the sectors of: High Value Manufacturing & Engineering, Clean Technology (transport, buildings, technologies, energy), Biotechnology (agri-bio, industrial biotech, food & health, med-tech) and Infotech (smart cities, ICT), to find and develop ideas and turn them into something truly exciting.

For more information on the current funding priorities for ERDF contact funding@norfolk.gov.uk and we will put you in touch with one of the ERDF Programme Facilitators for Norfolk and Suffolk.

ERDF is part of the Growth Programme, which also includes the European Social Fund, and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and seeks to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth to UK businesses.

ERDF supports large projects in excess of £1 million, and only funds up to half the costs of a project, so match funding is required. Approximately £34m of ERDF is available in Norfolk and Suffolk between 2015 and 2020.  

ERDF generally supports large projects which will have a high impact. Currently applications are sought for projects requesting a minimum of £500,000 ERDF (£1 million total cost, including match funds).

Each of the three funding priority areas for ERDF in the New Anglia area is called a ‘priority axis’, and funds project activity in the following areas.

Priority Axis 1: Strengthening research, technological development and innovation

  1. Promoting business investment in research and innovation
  2. Developing links/joint activity between enterprise, research/development centres and Higher Education
  3. Promoting investment in product/service development
  4. Driving demand for innovation through business engagement and provision of advice

Priority Axis 3: Enhancing the competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

  1. Access to finance through grants, loans and equity
  2. Business support including advice services for entrepreneurship, commercialisation and exports
  3. Support for new business start-ups and job creation initiatives

Priority Axis 4: Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy

  1. Building the market in low carbon environmental technologies, goods and services, via a range of support to businesses
  2. Increasing energy efficiency and decentralised energy production
  3. Increasing innovation in and adoption of low carbon technologies linked to existing strengths and natural assets
  4. Promoting low carbon strategies
The Government’s ERDF web pages include full guidance on the programme and application materials.

ERDF only funds 50% of every project, so you do need to find match funds. In-kind costs are eligible as is private sector match funding, where businesses make a contribution towards the cost of any project for which they are seeking support.

Depending on the nature of the call, applicant organisations can be from the public or private sector. They will deliver projects using European Regional Development Fund investment to work with existing businesses or potential entrepreneurs to promote economic growth. Potential applicant or partner organisations may include:

  • Local Authorities
  • Statutory and non-statutory public funded organisations/bodies
  • Higher and Further Education institutions
  • Voluntary/community organisations
  • Private sector companies
  • Registered charities
  • Not for Profit organisations

Whether from the public or private sector, you will need to consider the rules around State Aid very carefully. There is initial guidance on State Aid on the Government’s ERDF web pages, but you will need to take specialist advice if you decide to make an application to ERDF.

There is also an eligibility guidance document for ERDF applicants.

Most ERDF-funded projects will have delivery partners, to help them deliver projects which have impact across Norfolk and Suffolk and in some cases, in other Local Enterprise Partnership areas as well. 

The ERDF eligibility guidance includes information on partners. 

For information on calls for funding currently open, check the Government’s ERDF web pages or contact us at funding@norfolk.gov.uk for advice on project timescales.

Organisations interested in applying to lead an ERDF project need to be familiar with the national ERDF guidance including the priorities expressed in the Operational Programme, and the local strategic priorities in the New Anglia LEP area, as articulated in the New Anglia Strategic Economic Plan and European Investment Strategy.

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