Council helps businesses take off with Launchpad2

Councillor Vicky Glover-Ward with Artshed owner, Debbie Mason
The success of the Launchpad2 business support programme has seen East Herts Council assist over 70 businesses within the district with grant funding and business support.

Funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Launchpad2 has distributed £166,200 in grants to local businesses, helping them to finance capital investment and realise their full potential. In addition to the grant funding, more than 200 hours of tailored one-to-one support were provided to business owners, assisting them in navigating the complexities of their industries and overcoming hurdles along the way.

This investment in the local economy is set to continue through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The council is set to invest just under £500,000 by 31 March 2025 to further support the local business community. The funds will be allocated in the form of grants, with the initial focus being on providing five new premises grants. These grants aim to facilitate the establishment and expansion of businesses in the district.

Rothschild & Bickers were one of the Hertford-based businesses to benefit from the council’s support. The company makes handmade glass lighting fixtures and features for the UK and US markets. Their grant was used to buy equipment to start producing products for US export - specifically the different requirements around calibration, labelling and testing. 

Founder, Victoria Rothschild, said: “The grant from the council really helped us get in a position to grow the business, specifically with purchasing the equipment needed to meet the electrical standards required to sell to the US market. In the last year we have grown our customer base overseas and are now regularly exporting custom made lights to the US.”

Artshed, based at Westmill Farm, is an arts and crafts centre catering for a range of ages and experience levels, from babies’ clay hand printing through to older people visiting regularly to hone their skills. Their grant was used to buy two new kilns to replace previous ones that were smaller and unreliable.

Owner, Debbie Mason, said: “Our pottery classes are attended by a real mix of ages, from kids right through to older people and the old kilns sometimes couldn’t cope with the volume of pieces that needed to be fired. We used the grant to help towards the costs of two new kilns, which means we can now fire more professionally, up to 50 – 60 pieces at a time.”

Councillor Vicky Glover-Ward, Executive Member for Planning and Growth, said: “The impact of this investment in local businesses is undeniable. With the invaluable support received, entrepreneurs and business owners have been able to make substantial strides towards their business goals. The success stories emerging from this initiative serve as a testament to the commitment of East Herts Council and its partners in driving economic prosperity.”

More information on the UK Shared Prosperity funding for businesses can be found by visiting: