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Rural business

The South East Midlands countryside is home to inspiring entrepreneurs and flourishing rural businesses. With a quarter of people and a third of businesses being based in rural areas, our rolling countryside plays a vital role in the economy.

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Support for rural businesses

At SEMLEP, we're committed to helping the South East Midlands rural economy to thrive. Whether businesses want to discover funding opportunities or talk one on one with a Business Adviser, we're here to help. Find the support best aligned to your needs below. 

The Rural Group

To help amplify the voices of rural businesses, SEMLEP created the rural group. Established in 2014 the group is formed of rural representatives from the public, private, and VCSE sectors, offering first-hand rural expertise and local market intelligence.

The SEMLEP rural group meets once every three months to discuss funding opportunities, upcoming webinar opportunities and to provide a forum for businesses to share their experiences, challenges and thoughts with like-minded people.

Want to join? The rural group is looking to expand its representation of rural-based SMEs from within the South East Midlands. Please contact SEMLEP Rural Lead, Ken Christy at if you would like to join. Benefit from an enhanced understanding of the local rural economy.

Support for rural businesses

As a 24/7, 365 days a year business’s, it’s fair to say that the rural economy faces unique pressures. We’re here to help however we can. SEMLEP’s Growth Hub offers businesses fully funded support offering one to one advice and guidance. Get in touch today to talk about your business challenges, opportunities or to set growth strategies.

Access SEMLEP's Growth Hub

Northamptonshire Proposed Rural Development Strategy

This report identifies priorities for the local rural economy and proposes action to address these issues.It was commissioned by Ngage Solutions who delivered the EU/UK Leader funding programme in the region. The report provides a blueprint for a SEMLEP Rural Strategy.

Rural Funding for Farmers

Looking for funding? Our rural group works hard to identify funding opportunities designed to support rural businesses. Take a look at the latest funding opportunities below. 

Improving Farm Productivity 

Farmers and growers in England can now apply for up to £500,000 in Government funding to invest in cutting edge robotics and technology to boost food production and farm and horticulture productivity.

Grants ranging from £35,000 up to £500,000 are available to invest in productivity-boosting equipment such as driverless tractors, robots that harvest, spray crops and weed, and automated milking systems.

The new theme, worth £25 million in total, is the latest installment of the Farming Investment Fund – an umbrella fund which opened in November and is designed to further increase productivity on farms.

The application window for the Improving Farm Productivity theme of the Farming Investment Fund is now open until 16 March 2022.

Read more about the Farming Investment Fund and how to apply
Read the guidance on Improving Farm Productivity
Check if you can apply for a Farming Transformation Fund Improving Farm Productivity Grant


The Future Farming Resilience Fund

The Future Farming Resilience fund awards grants to organisations so that they can support farmers and land managers who are in receipt of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments. 

This new phase will provide up to £9 million funding to organisations that will, in turn, support up to 9,000 farmers and land managers.

Resilience support should help individual farmers and land managers to learn more about:

  • the impact of reductions to direct payments on their business
  • how their business models might need to adapt
  • business planning
  • performance recording
  • succession planning

The aim of the fund is to help farmers and land managers to feel supported to make the best decisions for their farms, families and future.

The support will be offered free of charge to farmers and land managers by organisations known and trusted in the farming community. It could be delivered in the form of workshops supported by experts or through direct, one-to-one advice. 

Find out more information

Sustainable Farming Incentive

The Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme will reward farmers for managing their land in an environmentally sustainable way.

The full scheme will launch in 2022, initially for farmers in England who currently get payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Find out more information

Local Nature Recovery Scheme

Local Nature Recovery is the improved and more ambitious successor to the Countryside Stewardship scheme in England. It will pay for locally-targeted actions to make space for nature in the farmed landscape and the wider countryside, alongside food production. This could include, for example:

  • managing and creating habitats
  • adding trees to fields or hedgerows, or
  • restoring peat or wetland areas in appropriate areas of their farm

Local Nature Recovery will take the best of Countryside Stewardship and add some of these new elements. This will help create a scheme with wider appeal that can deliver more and better outcomes, in a less bureaucratic and more supportive way.

The scheme will be rolled out across the whole country by the end of 2024. 

Find out more information

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