The fund, which now totals £2.4bn, is offered by the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS) to encourage economic growth and sustainable development.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said the fund could help food and drink firms to realise their potential. FDF director of competitiveness Angela Coleshill said the money will help the sector meet its 20/20 Vision, which calls for 20% growth in food and drink manufacturing by 2020.
“This funding could help businesses invest in the new infrastructure needed to meet overseas demand for great British-made brands, which in turn not only creates new jobs here in the UK, but also helps to safeguard existing ones,” said Coleshill.
Clegg launched the third round of RGF funding, which combines private and public investment, at the government’s National Manufacturing Summit at the Bristol and Bath Science Park this week.
Speaking at the launch, Clegg said: “The Regional Growth Fund is already having a huge impact across the UK. So far, there have been over 170 successful bids to the fund, leveraging around £7.5bn of private sector investment and it is set to create and protect 330,000 jobs.”
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “The Regional Growth Fund is starting to make excellent progress. Already 48 firms have started to access their funding, and around a third have started their projects as they go through legal checks. This means jobs are being created, money is being invested and the fund is making a difference.”
A BIS spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the benefits RGF funding had brought to the Wigan Borough Council Food Manufacturing Sector Group were typical of successful applications to the fund. The borough-led group of four firms, which supply and support the food industry, had received £700,000 worth of funding recently.
The money will generate a further £1.3M in private sector contributions while safeguarding 45 jobs and creating at least 36 new ones, she said.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement last year that the RGF would be extended until 2015. He said the money would “… provide ongoing support to grow the private sector in areas currently dependent on the public sector.”
The deadline for placing a bid for funding is June 13, 2012.