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Thanet council Success scheme awards over £423,000 to eight creative companies including dog clothes designer and hifi speaker manufacturer

By Chris Price

Sonic Concept managing director Darren Hollands has ideas as big as the sounds his quirky hifi speaker systems make.

The Manston-based company aims to distribute the products it designs and manufactures around the world, after launching in July with the help of a Success grant.

Run by Thanet District Council, the scheme has awarded more than £423,000 to creative start ups since launching in December last year.

From left, acoustic engineer Chris Wells, managing director Darren Hollands and administration manager Beth Marshall with some of the products being developed at Sonic Concept's base in Manston Business Park

The money has come from the Government’s £3.2bn Regional Growth Fund, a pot of money designed to help businesses across England grow.

With six months of design and development work ahead before releasing its products to market, Sonic Concept employs four people with another set to join at the end of the month.

“The Success grant has enabled us to set up in Thanet and invest in new product design which will allow us to exhibit our first product range at the Bristol HiFi Show in February 2015..." - Sonic Concept's Darren Hollands

It aims to take on more than 20 people in the next three years with the £150,000 it received.

Mr Hollands said: “The Success grant has enabled us to set up in Thanet and invest in new product design which will allow us to exhibit our first product range at the Bristol HiFi Show in February 2015.

“We are in an exciting period now where our complete focus is on creating speakers to thrill UK and worldwide customers.”

So far, eight companies in Thanet have been given grants of between £3,000 and £150,000 from the Success fund, which stands for South-East Urban Coast Creative Enterprise Support Scheme.

They include the likes of Doggie Apparel, a Margate-based designer and maker of dog clothes and accessories, and Big Jelly Studios, a Ramsgate-based recording facility in old Methodist chapel.

Margate-based Doggie Apparel has received funding from Success

Each business which applies must be match-funded in some way, to ensure the cash goes to firms likely to succeed and, more importantly, last.

Thanet council believes the grants it has awarded have encouraged more than £1.3m of investment from the eight businesses it has helped so far, creating about 65 jobs.

Cabinet member for economic development Cllr David Green said: “It’s fantastic that creative businesses in Thanet have capitalised on this opportunity and I’d urge anyone thinking of applying to do the same.

“Thanet has a great creative buzz and the boost that the Success scheme can provide is invaluable to any business looking to grow and employ staff.”

One of the live rooms at Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate

The initiative was given a total pot of £2m, which has to be used by February next year.

Council leader Cllr Iris Johnston said: “We would like as many of Thanet’s businesses as possible to take advantage of it.

“We already have a number of creative companies across Thanet and this scheme is helping more to start-up and for existing businesses to grow and building on the critical mass of creativity.”

There are many other Regional Growth Fund schemes operating in Kent, covering a wider range of industries but instead offering interest-free loans, rather than grants.

These include Expansion East Kent, Tiger, Escalate and Marsh Million.

For information on Success visit www.success-creative-fund.biz.

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