Business Surrey launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer

Man speaking with microphone in front of a blue backdrop to a group of people

Business Surrey – a new Surrey County Council service offering free and accessible support to businesses across the county – has officially been launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt.

From start-ups to longstanding SMEs, Surrey companies of all sizes, sectors and stages of their business journey can access expert support for no cost via the new Business Surrey website.

The Council developed the offer to coincide with the transfer of strategic powers to grow the economy previously held by the county’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

It means for the first time there is a single, co-ordinated business support offer for the whole of Surrey – something which is welcomed by local leaders.

Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Economic Growth, said: “Surrey has a fantastic economic story to tell – with more than 100,000 businesses, a highly-skilled workforce and world-leading sectors helping generate more than £50 billion a year to the UK economy.

“But we know there’s more that we can do – which is why I am delighted we have developed Business Surrey, providing a simple and easy way for companies of all sizes to access the support they need to grow.

“By being in a position to support businesses from day one of being handed these functions from LEPs, we are ahead of the national curve – something which can only be positive for our 1.2 million residents and 110,000 businesses.”

Business Surrey provides free and accessible support for all businesses in Surrey – such as targeted bespoke support for high growth companies, highlighting networking events, promoting the county’s innovative sectors, and hosting a live directory of more than 100 national and local initiatives.

The new website also brings together of the business-facing aspects of the Council’s work, including trading standards, Greener Futures and Surrey Fire & Rescue.

Business Surrey went live in April and was officially launched at Huskins in Godalming by the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week (Friday May 17).

Also speaking was Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council; Shahid Azeem, the High Sheriff of Surrey; and local tech entrepreneur Terence Naidu.

Representatives from Surrey County Council, business groups, universities and the county’s 11 district and borough authorities were among those attending.

Business Surrey launch – what they said

Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for South West Surrey, said: “Surrey is a fantastic place to do business. The innovation and ideas of its residents, combined with sector strengths in creative industries, and tech and life sciences, make it a pivotal region in driving growth for the whole of the UK.

“That’s why it’s great to see Surrey County Council using the newly transferred powers formally held by LEPs to develop a clear offer to support businesses.

“I would urge businesses at all stages of their journey to contact the Business Surrey team to access expert help and support.”

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “Growing the economy in a sustainable way is a priority for the Council, which can only be achieved by working and engaging with our fantastic business community. Growth is not only good for business; it also generates opportunities for local people, supports investment in our communities, and improves the lives and wellbeing of our 1.2 million residents.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to work closely with our universities, businesses, and local authority partners to capitalise on our enhanced strategic economic role, as it is only through shared expertise that we stand the best chance of growing our economies.”

Smiling man in a suit jacket and shirt talking to another person

Business Surrey roadshow

As part of the Business Surrey launch, Surrey County Council has teamed up with Surrey Chambers of Commerce to hold a series of Business Surrey Roadshow events next month.

The sessions will include practical ways for business owners to access support to grow their enterprises, as well as opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals.

The events take place on:

  • June 4 in Camberley – Login Lounge from 8am
  • June 6 in Egham – Royal Holloway, University of London from 6pm
  • June 13 in Horley – Langshott Manor Hotel from 8am
  • June 21 in Leatherhead – Fetcham Park House from 8am

Pre-booking for the events is essential. Secure your space via the Business Surrey events page.

Branded water bottles on a table with a window at the background and pot plant to the left

Free short online course launched for SMEs by government

Small business leaders across Surrey can now access Help to Grow: Management Essentials, a free short online course packed with practical tips to help their company grow.

The Department for Business and Trade launched the new Help to Grow: Management Essentials course last week (April 24, 2024).

Based on the 12-week Help to Grow: Management Course, Essentials is suited to leaders of newer or smaller SMEs, or those who are looking to explore the principles of business growth and management before taking the next step and enrolling in the full course.

It is intended to support Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) leaders to establish their roots as they look ahead to scale up and grow their business.

How do I access Help to Grow: Management Essentials?

Essentials is the latest addition to the extensive package of SME support announced by Government as part of the ‘Help to Grow’ campaign: a one-stop shop for SMEs.

The course is free, with content divided into three easy-to-access modules consisting of short videos and supporting resources covering the essential business concepts required to unlock growth. Business leaders can access the course through the Help to Grow website.

Businesses in Surrey can also access free bespoke support from the new growth hub service run by Surrey County Council via the business support form on the Business Surrey website.

What do businesses say about Help to Grow: Management Essentials?

Byron Dixon, founder of Micro Fresh said:

“These videos are jam-packed with inspiration and practical tips for small business leaders. I wish I’d had this type of resource available to me when I was scaling my business.”

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“FSB has been making the case for a streamlined, digital taster session version of the Help to Grow Management course, and we’re delighted to see this now delivered. Businesses with fewer than five employees were ineligible for the full Help to Grow course, so this is particularly good news.

“This will better fit with the busy lives of small business owners who struggled with the initial commitment for 12-week intensive learning. It means many more can now access the benefits of Help to Grow and see the benefits of committing to the longer course as follow-up.”

Michael Hayman, MBE, Chair of the Small Business Charter said:

“Designed by the experts at Small Business Charter accredited business schools, the Help to Grow: Management Essentials Course will provide new opportunities for smaller firms to unlock their business potential.

“Essentials joins the full Help to Grow: Management Course which has already helped thousands of business leaders develop the skills they need to accelerate growth, productivity and innovation. Together they provide a unique opportunity for businesses across the SME community to benefit.”

Enterprise Nation Founder and CEO, Emma Jones CBE, said:

“As a delivery partner on the Help to Grow: Management course, we see the positive impact this initiative has on small business confidence and productivity every day. One thing that stands out is the value that working one-to-one with a matched mentor can have, bringing the lessons learned on the course alive in a very practical setting.

“Helping business leaders understand the clear benefits that taking time out of the business to sharpen business knowledge can have – and practical support on how to apply that to their own business cannot be overstated.”

Sign up to the Management Essentials course via the Small Business Charter website.

New CEO for Surrey Hills Enterprises announced

Surrey Hills Enterprises has announced the appointment of Maggie Howell as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Maggie succeeds Wendy Varcoe, who is retiring after seven years of dedicated service. She brings a wealth of experience and a relentless commitment to advancing the organisation’s vision of fostering a thriving sustainable rural economy in the Surrey Hills.

Her appointment marks an exciting chapter for Surrey Hills Enterprises, which is the Community Interest Company arm of the Surrey Hills National Landscapes. It was set up in 2012 to support and develop the rural economy and tourism and to promote and enhance the Surrey Hills.

Surrey Hills Enterprises core activities are focused on ‘clean growth’, environmental sustainability and building a strong local economy and tourism industry.  It has a strong membership of local businesses who receive business support including training, mentoring, collaboration and a Surrey Hills marketing platform.

With over 20 years of experience in running two award-winning local, national, and international businesses, as well as three decades of expertise in marketing, event management, team leadership, and stakeholder management, Maggie is primed to build on Wendy’s work.

Maggie Howell said:

“I am honoured and thrilled to lead Surrey Hills Enterprises into its next phase of growth and development. Wendy’s legacy is undeniable, and I am committed to continuing her remarkable work of supporting environmentally sustainable businesses, promoting our members to the wider community and forging collaborations with key partners.”

Maggie’s deep understanding of Surrey Hills Enterprises, gained from working for the organisation for the last five years, positions her as the ideal leader for this role.

As an entrepreneur herself, Maggie brings a profound empathy for small businesses. She couples with a relentless drive for collaboration and business support.

Maggie will host her inaugural event on May 23rd, in partnership with the Surrey Sustainable Business Network, coinciding with the launch of the new Guildford Zero premises in Guildford.

This collaborative event will bring together a diverse range of organisations committed to Surrey Hills Enterprises’ vision of creating a more sustainable business community in the Surrey Hills. Book tickets on the Surrey Hills website.

Surrey Hill Enterprises is one of dozens of services in the Business Surrey Support Directory. This lists local, regional and national schemes to help your business grow and succeed.

Business leaders sought to shape Surrey’s economic future

Are you a local business leader who wants to be a driving force in shaping Surrey’s economic future, be a voice for businesses in Surrey, and use your experience to help inform the delivery of projects that will bring tangible benefits to the local business community and residents?

Business Surrey – which is a Surrey County Council service – is expanding the membership of the Surrey Business Leaders’ Forum to ensure it is reflective of the diversity, innovation, and growth that is happening across Surrey’s economy.

As a member, you will bring your knowledge and expertise from your business and wider sector to share insights about the opportunities and challenges your business faces, help inform local decision-making, and shape new initiatives and investments designed to support local economic growth.

To register your interest in joining the Surrey Business Leaders Forum, please email

A member of the team will be in contact to set up a call to share more details about the Forum and discuss your interest in joining.

About the Business Leader’s Forum

The Surrey Business Leaders’ Forum is a diverse and representative group, bringing together companies from across the county, including business representative organisations, SMEs and representatives from major Surrey employers and priority sectors.

It plays a critical role in elevating the voice and role of business in local decision-making.

The forum supports the One Surrey Growth Board and Surrey County Council with business insight and expertise and represents a diverse local business voice related to Surrey’s key economic strengths.

It will provide challenge and insight into the business impact of public sector initiatives and raise awareness of local business and economic needs.

For further details on how the Business Leaders’ Forum supports the work of Business Surrey visit the How We Work page.

About Surrey’s economy

With 110,000 businesses, Surrey fosters a thriving and diverse economy which generates £50 billion a year to the UK economy.

Alongside an impressive mix of international enterprises such as Samsung, Sony and the WWF, among many others, Surrey is also home to innovative start-ups and a high level of micro-businesses, adding to the county’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Surrey has a highly skilled workforce. Fifty-four per cent of residents have a degree or higher. The area also has prestigious educational and research institutions, including three prominent universities and national research agencies. The business success rate is high, at 88%, compared to 81% nationally. As a result, it is well-suited to nurturing some of the UK’s most successful companies and world-leading sectors. These include createch, cybersecurity, AI, space and satellites, health, and gaming.

Read more about Surrey’s economy here.

Denbies vineyard in Surrey

Welcome to Business Surrey

Business Surrey, Surrey County Council’s new business facing brand and website, has now gone live.

The start of April saw Surrey County Council formally absorb the key functions previously held by the county’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Enterprise M3 and Coast to Capital.

It means for the first time there is a single organisation responsible for driving sustainable economic growth across the whole of the county. 

The transfer also means the Council gains formal responsibilities to deliver business support through the new Surrey-wide Growth Hub and deliver government-funded programmes focused on skills. 

A new business-facing website for the whole of Surrey is fundamental in ensuring the Council starts delivering for businesses and residents from day one – placing it ahead of the national curve, which is positive news for it’s 1.2 million residents and 110,000 businesses.

What is Business Surrey?

Business Surrey provides free and accessible support for all businesses in Surrey – through targeted bespoke support for high growth companies, highlighting available funding and grants, and easy signposting to relevant national and local initiatives.

Anyone looking for help and support for their business in Surrey can contact the team of experts via the business support section of the new website. Topics include Access to Funding; Talent, recruitment and apprenticeships; Starting a business; and Innovation and technology.

detailed and easy-to-use Support Directory also contains more then 100 national, regional and local schemes, providing businesses the chance to search for and contact external providers for help on a range of topics.

Those with more general queries can also contact the team via the Contact Us form.

News, events and networking opportunities will also be promoted on the site.

To keep up-to-date with news and events then sign up to our newsletter and follow Business Surrey on LinkedIn.

Do you have events and news for Surrey businesses?

Business Surrey is a gateway to support, advice and information for businesses across the whole of Surrey.

If you have an event you would like listing, you can upload this directly via our Submit an Event form.

If you have relevant news or a service to include in the directory then send through details via our contact us form.

Image advertising the new Business Surrey website

Netflix and Amazon take up residence in Shepperton Studios’ expansion

Surrey is now home to the world’s second biggest film studio as Shepperton Studios welcomed two of the largest production companies to their new home.

The £500 million expansion was recently completed and now Amazon MGM Studios and Netflix have occupied the new space.

The state-of-the-art development will add to Shepperton’s world-class amenities and provide an additional 17 sound stages, 548,000 sq ft of production and workshop spaces as well as two backlots. 

Amazon MGM Studios have taken a total of nine new stages and Netflix will be taking eight in addition to their existing 14 leased stages on the original Shepperton site. 

The development makes Shepperton Studios – which is part of the Pinewood Group – the second biggest film studio in the world with a total of 31 purpose-built sound stages alongside ancillary production accommodation, the whole site covers 1.5 million sq ft.

Shepperton Studios lit up at night time

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Shepperton and for Surrey as a whole, cementing our reputation as a region for innovation, creativity and top class talent. 

“The fact that two of the largest content producers in the world have chosen Shepperton and Surrey for a global base speaks volumes for the amazing offer the county provides to businesses, large and small. 

“We look forward to deepening our relationships with Shepperton, Amazon and Netflix in the months and years to come, so we can ensure our residents and businesses benefit from the investment, jobs and opportunities this brings.”

Chris Bird, Managing Director, Prime Video UK said: “It feels fitting that, ten years from the launch of Prime Video, we’re beginning our tenure in brand new facilities at Shepperton Studios.

“It’s so exciting that some of our most loved series and movies around the world will be made right here in the UK, including season three of our fantastic UK Original The Devil’s Hour. Shepperton Studios have long been synonymous with world class filmmaking, and we’re delighted to continue supporting and investing in the UK creative industries.”

Anna Mallett, Vice President Production EMEA/UK Netflix said: “The UK is our most important production hub outside North America. This announcement reinforces our long-term commitment to Britain’s creative sector. 

“Since 2020, we have invested over $6 billion in the UK creating shows like Sex Education, The Crown and Bridgerton here. The completion of Shepperton will allow us to expand our footprint even further, creating incredible new shows, jobs and a boost for the economy.”

Paul Golding CBE, Chairman, Pinewood Group said: “We’re incredibly pleased to have opened our new state-of-the art facilities at Shepperton Studios and to see Netflix and Amazon MGM Studios making this long-term commitment to the studios and to the UK.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The decision by the two largest content producers in the world to choose their long-term home in the UK and base their global productions at Shepperton Studios backed by private sector

investment is testament to the support the Government has given to the UK’s screen sector.

“I am thrilled that Amazon MGM Studios and NETFLIX have taken possession of 17 new state of the art sound stages at Shepperton Studios making Pinewood Group, the biggest studio complex in Europe.

“The UK is now the second largest production hub, second only to Hollywood, in the world.”

Surrey Women’s Entrepreneurship Network applications welcomed

The Surrey Women’s Entrepreneurship Network (SWEN) is a burgeoning network which fosters innovation and investment-readiness through mentoring programmes, expert business support and links with the local ecosystem of funders, policy makers, investors and other stakeholders.

It is a collaboration between Surrey Research ParkSETsquared Surrey & University of Surrey, aiming to improve opportunities for business growth and innovation.

This includes access to information and support for women entrepreneurs, creating positive impact locally and beyond.

Surrey Women's Entrepreneurship Network

In addition to bringing people together, its focus is on:

  • Championing women
    • Spotlighting and promoting the contribution of women in the innovation ecosystem, raising the profile of entrepreneurs and companies across all sectors who are underrepresented
  • Investor-readiness
    • Supporting women to access funding for their businesses and source and prepare for investment raises and grant applications
  • Growth opportunities
    • Creating opportunities for women to grow their networks, build interest in their ideas and receive expert business advice

The network launched in December 2023 at the Surrey Research Park in Guildford.

The audience heard a keynote by Nathalie Hinds delivered beautifully by Monique Raats on “Three Powerful Words”, before two inspiring panels took to the stage.

The panelists – Tobi EyinadeFiona SwenyShelley Coleman – MarshSusannah McClintockDr Alison Callwood and Matthew McCann – brought a wealth of experience and were incredibly generous with their advice and guidance for the women entrepreneurs in the network.

Kathy Slack OBE closed the event with great energy and a clear message to the audience to “feel that buzz in your belly” and keep the momentum going forward.

SWEN Co-founder Kat Mack says, “It was wonderful to see so many people in the room committed to the support and pursuit of women’s entrepreneurship. The community is vibrant and poised! I can’t wait to see the network flourish!”

To apply to join the SWEN network click here.

Surrey Women’s Entrepreneurship Network

LEP functions transferred to Surrey County Council

Businesses will be at the heart of Surrey’s economic growth as they are set to benefit from a single strategic vision and leadership for the Surrey economy as part of the transfer of formal powers to Surrey County Council.

From April, the Council will take up the key functions currently held by the county’s two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Enterprise M3 and Coast to Capital.

The change will see the council lead on an enhanced oversight and delivery role in driving sustainable economic growth across the county. It will absorb formal responsibilities to deliver business support through the new Surrey-wide Growth Hub and deliver government-funded programmes focused on skills.

Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Transport, Infrastructure and Growth at Surrey County Council said: “Surrey has a great economic story to tell. We’re the UK’s leading regional economy, with more than 100,000 businesses which generate more than £50 billion a year to the UK economy.

“We know there is huge potential to grow this further – through targeted support to key sectors, and through working with employers, training providers and local residents to create a high-quality skilled workforce for the future.

“I very much welcome the transfer of these powers into Surrey County Council. 

“It will mean for the first time we will have one organisation who, together with a strong independent business voice, will provide a clear, coherent and comprehensive approach to developing a strong sustainable economy. This is positive for business and for residents.

“I want to thank the government for hearing our case and also to our partners in the LEPs for working with us to ensure there is a seamless transfer of service at the start of April.”

Surrey has historically been divided across two LEP boundaries – Enterprise M3 operating in the west of the county and Coast to Capital in the east – which has presented challenges in terms of strategic coherence and created confusion for local businesses.

In March 2023, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget statement announced the intention to integrate of LEP functions into upper tier local authorities.

Aware of the positive impacts that could have for Surrey, the County Council took steps to engage early with partners to ensure it was ready to absorb and deliver these functions from the point of transfer.

report discussed and agreed by the Council’s Cabinet on 27th February acknowledge the move could have a range of positive benefits for local businesses and residents including:

  • Setting a single economic vision for the county, ensuring Surrey-wide solutions are developed to support local economic growth.
  • The development of a new Surrey business brand and website to make it easier for businesses to know where to access the right information, advice and guidance.   
  • The creation of a Surrey Growth Hub service to provide universal signposting support for business, as well as targeted interventions to help eligible local businesses in their journey to becoming high-growth.
  • The creation of a Surrey Careers Hub (launched in September 2023), which delivers a range of activities focused on ensuring schools and colleges can help young people take their next best step.   
  • Improved join-up and efficiencies with existing council services and teams.
  • Greater democratic accountability for decision-making related to local economic growth, that will be informed by a strong, independent, and diverse private sector voice.
  • Future government funding to support local growth will now be focused on the whole of Surrey, instead of it being spread across larger regional areas.   

Further announcements will be made in the coming months regarding the launch of the new Surrey business brand, website, and Surrey Growth Hub.

Surrey County Council offices

Boost for gaming sector with £2.4 million GAIN programme

Businesses working within the gaming sector in Surrey are being encouraged to get involved with a new £2.3 million programme to tackle challenges in the industry.

The Games and Innovation Nexus (GAIN) will focus on ways to promote growth and innovation in this growing sector.

Already more than 60 companies and 3,000 developers work within the gaming sector in Guildford, earning the town the title of “the Hollywood of Gaming”.

Among the priorities for GAIN will be developing infrastructure for the sector to enable greater collaboration, with the aim of ensuring Surrey continues to be a world leader in this creative sector.

The catalyst for the project is £1.5 million of funding from Research England aimed at allowing two of the UK’s biggest gaming clusters – Guildford and Leamington in Warwickshire – to drive innovation in the sector.

If you’re working in or interested in gaming, the GAIN project team are keen to hear more about your industry challenges, opportunities and ideas for research collaboration.

Sign up here.

GAIN launch

GAIN was officially launched at the Guildford Games Festival in February.

The project will look to:

  • Connect university researchers with games companies with challenges to solve
  • Connect the Guildford and Leamington games clusters
  • Invest in an innovation ecosystem, including a new Games Innovation Zone at the University of Surrey; and a town centre incubation centre at UCA Farnham that support games innovation commercialisation.

As part of the launch, Caroline Fleming, Director Surrey Innovation District, University of Surrey, chaired a panel session titled ‘Connecting Capabilities, Research to Revenue’ involving industry and academic representatives.

The prestigious panel comprised of Charity Joy from Criterion Games, which is part of the gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA); Steve Cuss of The GamePlan Consultancy; Andrew Bossom from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) and the University of Surrey’s Dr Stephen Mooney.

Together, the industry experts explored the relationship between universities and the games industry, delving into issues around people and skills, research, and the value of connections and networks.

Caroline Fleming, Director Surrey Innovation District, University of Surrey, said: “The University of Surrey is particularly excited to develop our innovation collaboration with Guildford’s vibrant and exciting games cluster.

“GAIN is designed to tackle the challenge of development of a new diversified innovation model that bridges across academic research and the IP sensitive Games industry, creating opportunity for regional economic growth and positive societal impact.

“I would like to thank the Guildford Games Committee, for inviting us to host this session, Surrey County Council for their ongoing support for the games sector in our region, and Research England, for recognising the value of our regional games cluster and committing £1.5m to funding it.”

Why does GAIN matter?

Dr William Lovegrove, Director of Innovation Strategy at the University of Surrey, who led the consortium bid, said: “The UK consumer games industry generates over £3 billion a year for the UK GDP and hires almost 50,000 people. It’s a UK success story.

“This project will help connect world-class researchers in the fields of AI, psychology, music, media, literature and languages with the two largest regional games clusters in the UK to collaborate, solve industry challenges and drive growth. It’s an exciting initiative which will redefine how universities collaborate with the UK games industry.”

Dr Amer Alwarea, Acting Director of Research and Innovation at the University for the Creative Arts, said: “This collaboration will stimulate our research communities, invigorate innovation in CreaTech, and champion sustainable expansion within the gaming sector. The fusion of academia and the gaming industry sets this partnership apart and establishes a new standard for the creative sector.”

Cllr Matt Furniss, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Economic Growth, said: “The games industry is one of Surrey’s real success stories, showcasing our county and its talented workforce on a global stage.

“This funding has the potential to take this growing, innovative sector to new heights, creating high-quality jobs and generating inward investment into our communities – both of which would be good news for our residents.”

For more details visit:

GAIN funding