A grant scheme that helps businesses across the West Midlands invest in innovative new products has been hailed a success by an independent evaluation. Successfully managed by Birmingham City Council, the Business Innovation Programme (BIP) is an £8.7m programme of business support, part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is expected to create and safeguard over 600 jobs, significantly over its target of 350.

And now an independent evaluation has said the scheme makes an important contribution to the growth of the regional economy, with evidence that it has helped unlock investment more quickly and on a larger scale than would otherwise have happened.

Councillor Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, transport and the economy, said: “It is encouraging to see independent confirmation of the benefits of this programme that we have been able to deliver to Birmingham and the wider region.

“This is all about helping businesses to help themselves. All levels of government – local, national and European – have a crucial role to play in creating the right environment for businesses in Birmingham and the West Midlands to flourish by helping them to invest and grow.

“We hope to secure further funding for business innovation as this programme has shown just what we can do.”

The report also said the success of the project has been supported by strong project management and good engagement with partners across the region. BIP has built on the council’s previous experience of delivering business support interventions which has ensured effective administrative processes and systems have been put in place. The application and appraisal process has been ‘fit for purpose’ and represents a model of good practice.

Not only does it provide much needed investment into local businesses with growth potential, but it provides a solid offer to help engage businesses in wider business support provision, the report adds.