Keep up investment plea to Chancellor

Posted on Nov 27, 2014

The boss of one of the South West’s fastest growing companies is urging the Chancellor, George Osborne, to keep up investment in the region.

Louise Pasterfield’s elearning company, Sponge, based at Plymouth Science Park, has seen 60% growth in the last 12 months with 2014 proving to be the firm’s most successful year to date.

But ahead of the Autumn Statement next week (Dec 3, 2014), Pasterfield is warning that sustained investment is needed if businesses in the South West are to keep on growing.

“There is now good support available in the Westcountry to help companies make the most of their potential,” she said. “Business development organisations in the region have a strong track record of working together to create the right conditions for growth.”

But Pasterfield added: “The challenge is to maintain the momentum and I would urge Mr Osborne to recognise the progress being made in the region and keep up, if not increase investment.”

Sponge, which makes bespoke online training for major companies and organisations such as Tesco, Toyota and United Nations, has received help from the Plymouth University and Western Morning News Growth Fund 2 (PWGF2), allowing the business to create more than 20 new jobs in a single year.

Plymouth Science Park has supported Sponge’s expansion and accommodated the business to move three times in four years to larger office space. The company now occupies a three-storey building in Phase Three of the park and is one of the site’s largest tenants.

“Another factor helping companies like ours to thrive is the availability of bright graduates on our doorstep.

“Around 40% of the Sponge workforce went to Plymouth University with Exeter and Falmouth also well represented.

“Having access to talented staff is crucial and a key driver for business growth”

The Government-backed Growth Accelerator scheme has helped to fund leadership and management training for staff at Sponge and the company has also benefited from Santander’s Graduate Internship Programme.

The elearning business was set up in 2004 with a workforce of two and now has 50 staff and growing.

Sponge has just been named Elearning Development Company of the Year at the Elearning Awards – the highest accolade in the industry.