City council launches £5m support programme aimed at creating ‘hundreds of jobs’

Derby City Council is launching a £5m programme that it says will help businesses in the city innovate, expand and create hundreds of new jobs.

The authority has developed its Ascend programme as part of the city’s coronavirus economic recovery strategy – devised to ensure that Derby can build back successfully after the COVID-19 pandemic. It will offer growth advice to business, as well as a £3m scale-up loan fund.

Ascend will be run with help from the University of Derby and will support local companies to develop and implement growth plans and secure investment.

Luxury doughnut-maker Project D, which has recently created 100 jobs and moved into a new bakery in Spondon, has been chosen to help pilot the project and will receive expert support to further develop its business.

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council said the aim of the Ascend programme was to develop ‘an entrepreneurial eco-system’ in Derby: “We want to make our city a fantastic place to establish and grow a business, to create high-quality and sustainable jobs while, at the same time, supporting and diversifying the local economy.

2While it is vital that, as part of our recovery strategy, we work with external investors such as SmartParc and St James Securities, whose developments will generate thousands of new jobs in Derby, it is equally important that we assist existing businesses to exploit their potential and create further employment.

“We will bring in experts in leadership, business modelling, growth strategy, financial planning and technology development to nurture the ambitions of our brightest companies and help them achieve their potential.”

The Ascend team is looking to support up to 50 businesses over the next two years and has appointed a panel – including senior officials from the council and university, business advisors, investors and entrepreneurs – to consider applications.

The scheme will be open to businesses based within eight miles of Derby city centre who commit to creating jobs for Derby residents, graduates or students. It will officially launch later in the spring but companies can already register their interest by emailing