A MULTI-million pound windfall has been made available for dozens of Hampshire firms.

A new initiative has seen £4.7 million of Government funding made available for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) across the south coast.

It is hoped the funding will give invaluable help for companies in the region, as well as creating and safeguarding dozens of jobs.

It is available for companies in the supply chain for Hampshire-based defence giant BAE Systems, who can bid for grants of between £10,000 and £300,000.

BAE has launched the scheme alongside the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (SLEP) and Portsmouth City Council.

The funding comes from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, which has also provided £1.85 million of funding for the Daily Echo-backed Bridging the Gap phase two project, which is open to businesses from Southampton, the Isle of Wight and the waterside parishes of the New Forest.

Firms in BAE’s supply chain which apply for funding must invest at least 80 per cent of any funding requirement for their project, with the remaining 20 per cent provided by the fund.

Each bid will be assessed by a panel comprised of members of the LEP, Portsmouth City Council and figures from BAE.

BAE’s managing director Rory Fisher, who is also a board member of the LEP, said: “This commitment to the local area combined with the significant increase in activity to support the modernisation of the naval base to accommodate the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers is exciting for BAE Systems and for the local area.

“This funding allocation will really help to invest in the local supply chain and secure future jobs in the region.”

A free conference at Portsmouth naval base on Tuesday, September 17 will be an opportunity for SMEs to find out more about the initiative.

The Solent Futures SME Supply Chain Conference will be a chance to meet members of the LEP and BAE’s supplier management team and discuss how to apply for funding.

To find out more or register your place, email Laurence King at laurence.king@baesystems.com or call 023 9272 0023.