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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 24/7, 365-days-a-year businesses, 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. 

Key Dates For Funding Schemes

A new post, “Key dates to look out for in 2022” has just been published on the Rural payments blog.

Read the full post here:

The Key Date Graph shows you important dates in 2022 for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES)

Farming Investment Fund

A £30 million-drive to boost on-farm innovation and productivity in England has been announced by Defra today (9/6/22).

£30million from the Farming Investment Fund (FIF) will enable farmers in England to purchase equipment to process, diversify and add value to their products after they have been harvested or reared.

They include:   

  • equipment for preparing or processing edible agricultural products for added value sales 
  • equipment for ‘second stage’ processing of grain - for example, colour sorting, blending 
  • equipment for processing non-edible agricultural products into new products (for example, flax, hemp, wool, hides, and skins) 
  • equipment for retailing eligible agricultural products (for example, vending machines or display facilities) 
  • premises for the preparation or processing of added value agricultural products, including associated integral storage areas. 

The scheme will offer grants of between £25,000 and £300,000 for up to 40% of eligible project costs.  

Apply for a grant if you are:

  • a grower or other producer of agricultural products (meaning you carry on an agricultural or horticultural activity, including rearing livestock)
  • a business processing agricultural or horticultural products which is at least 50% owned by agricultural or horticultural producers.

Learn more and apply here 

The Farming Innovation Programme

A long-term funding programme to support farmers, growers, foresters and other businesses to embrace innovative ways to maximise productivity and drive sustainability has opened for applications.

All funding will be awarded through competitions. This means applications for each competition will be judged, and only the successful ones will be funded.

The programme’s aims are to:

• help farmers, growers and foresters increase productivity, sustainability and resilience
• reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and horticulture
• apply agricultural research to provide real benefits for farmers, growers and foresters
• use science to develop solutions for the practical challenges in agriculture and horticulture

Check out the competitions

Domestic Tree Production Grant

A new £8.8 million fund to support domestic tree production in England has been opened by the Forestry Commission today (Thursday 19 May), in partnership with Defra.

The funding will help tree nurseries and suppliers invest in projects which improve, expand, automate or mechanise their operations. This will support efforts to build nursery capacity and grow long-term tree seed and sapling supply – delivering on a commitment within the England Trees Action Plan), the Government’s long-term plan for the nation’s trees, woodlands and forests.

Successful projects will be awarded up to £175,000 in grant funding to cover up to 50% of costs, with money coming from the Tree Production Capital Grant as part of the Government’s £750 million Nature for Climate Fund. Example projects suitable for funding could include investments in machinery such as transplanting systems and grading machines, improved polytunnel infrastructure and irrigation systems, or in biosecurity through improved water treatment and refrigeration equipment.

The Tree Production Capital Grant is now open for applications until Thursday 30 June.

Click here for more information, and to apply 

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