European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) - Thames Valley Berkshire

Status:  Open to applications

Application Deadline: 23 November 2018


A combination of funding from the European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund and elements of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development will be allocated at local level to drive smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.


Fund Value: £ 24,964,000

Value Notes

Thames Valley Berkshire has an allocation of €28.5 million of ERDF and ESF for the period 2014-2020 and €1.4 million of EAFRD.

The amount available under specific Calls for Proposals is given in the details of the Call. 

Extended Description

The EU Growth Programme will combine allocations of EU funding from the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) to drive smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Local Enterprise partnerships will play a key role in the 2014-2020 programme by setting the strategic direction and framework for the new programme in local areas; however, responsibility for administering the funds will remain with Managing Authorities in central government to ensure compliance with EU rules and maximise freedom to deliver.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP plays a lead role in determining sub-regional priorities and supporting activities that drive economic growth and create jobs.

Its strategic priorities are based around keeping innovative and best in class:

  • Ensuring transport infrastructure is fit for the 21st century - focused particularly on rail infrastructure to ensure an efficient alternative to road usage.
  • Driving better information technology infrastructure through the Superfast Broadband initiative to bring particularly rural areas up to the same level of connectivity that most enjoy and then pushing for ultrafast broadband and better mobile networks across Thames Valley Berkshire.
  • Building a world class workforce and making sure the next generation of residents are equipped for the future world of work - focused on employability soft skills and apprenticeships and will be promoting Digital Learning Centres to upgrade everyone’s skills in new technologies.
  • For SMEs - working on access to finance, finding the gaps in provision working with banks and trying to improve business confidence and promoting exporting.

Latest Information

Application deadlines vary between individual Calls.                         

Key Criteria

A wide range of organisations in the public, private and VCSE sector may apply for funding, provided they are legally constituted and can demonstrate the necessary financial capacity and expertise required to fulfil the legal requirements of the funding agreement. This includes, for example, universities, SMEs, social enterprises and charitable organisations.

Eligible Expenditure

The Funds will provide significant investment in innovation, business, skills and employment in a common agenda for growth and jobs that will integrate effectively with wider LEP Strategic Plans.

All LEPs are required to produce an EU Investment Plan setting out how they propose to spend their EU funding allocation. EU regulations for the new programme require all EU funding to be spent on 11 'thematic objectives' - however, LEPs can choose which of these objectives to focus on in order to meet local needs.

The 11 Thematic Objectives are:

  1. Strengthening research, technological development, and innovation.
  2. Enhancing access to and use of information and communication technologies.
  3. Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  4. Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors.
  5. Promoting climate change adaptation and risk prevention.
  6. Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency.
  7. Promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures.
  8. Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility.
  9. Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty.
  10. Investing in education, skills, and lifelong learning.
  11. Enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration.

In Thames Valley Berkshire, EU Structural Funds will be used to accelerate the delivery of two of the strategic priorities from LEPs outline growth strategy 'Making the boat go faster':

  1. A hothouse of creativity and innovation.
  2. Improving employability and closing skills gaps.


TO1: Strengthening research, technological development and innovation

The objectives are to:

  • Build collaborative research between enterprises, research institutions and public institutions.
  • Bring new products to market, particularly those which draw directly on the research strengths of Thames Valley Berkshire and to support businesses to commercialise research and development.
  • Provide appropriate physical infrastructure to enable the commercialisation of research and the growth of innovative, early stage, businesses.

TO3: Enhancing the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises

The objectives are to:

  • Build the growth capability of SMEs, by:
    • Encouraging a stronger performance in relation to exports
    • Improving productivity
    • Increasing the provision of finance and equipping SMEs to access it more effectively
    • Strengthening supply chains
    • Ensuring that there is an adequate supply of incubation, especially for high growth potential firms, grow on space and support services where there is a market failure
  • Promote a more entrepreneurial culture, by:
    • Providing early stage finance and investment readiness support
    • Promoting entrepreneurship
    • Providing support to start a business

TO4: Supporting the shift towards a low carbon economy in all sectors

TO6: Protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency


  • Overall, the aim will be to support the objectives of the Health and Wellbeing Boards across Berkshire in preventing disease and ill health through enhanced physical activity.
  • Investment in green infrastructure will create more green space in local communities.
  • Targeted investment in green infrastructure will enhance biodiversity and go some way toward compensating for any loss of biodiversity as a result of the wider economic strategy for Thames Valley Berkshire.


TO8: Promoting employment and supporting labour mobility

In relation to TO8, the objectives are aligned with the provisions of the Thames Valley Berkshire City Deal. These include the following:

  • To broker opportunities for young people and supporting local employers to take on young people who are not in employment, education or training (including those with complex barriers) including through traineeships, apprenticeships, work experience and graduate placements.
  • To overcome the challenges brought about by the limited range of employment in some of our rural areas.
  • To help older workers to re-train, re-enter or stay engaged in the labour market.
  • To provide additional or more intensive support to help people move towards work, enter work (including self-employment) and to progress in work.

TO9: Promoting social inclusion and combating poverty

Disadvantage will be tackled through two routes:

  1. Working closely with Berkshire’s civil society/voluntary sector: to lever Thames Valley Berkshire’s civil society/voluntary sector to make a tangible difference by targeting areas of multiple deprivation to create the highest impact. This will be achieved by working collaboratively with local organisations to agree realistic targets and outcomes.
  2. Working closely with the six local authorities in Thames Valley Berkshire to tackle barriers to work in troubled families.

TO10: Investing in education, skills and lifelong learning

In relation to TO10, the objectives complement the aspirations of the Thames Valley Berkshire City Deal. They include the need to:

  • Promote the use of Higher Level apprenticeships (especially in manufacturing and industrial strategy priority sectors) by developing a supportive environment for new HLAs.
  • Develop better links between business and educators, Further education providers and other education partners to equip students with the skills to start and grow a business to meet local business needs.
  • Support change in the local economy to meet skills gaps at all levels for SMEs and the social economy.
  • Support intermediate, technical and higher skills for specific industries and sectors identified as driving growth in the local economy.

Application Procedure

Applications are made in response to specific Calls for Proposals. Calls may invite bids for many different types of projects, or might be focused on a particular activity.

Applying for ERDF/ESF

Applicants must complete and return an Outline Application form to the email address provided in the Call document available at the Call webpage on GOV.UK.

Applicants are also advised to read the details in the Call documents in order to produce an application that complies with the requirements and meets the needs set out in the Operational Programme. All information, related guidance and the European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme (ERDF) can be found from the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds homepage.

Applying for EARDF

Applications under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF) will be made through the Rural Payments service. Applicants must first register online or by phone with GOV.UK Verify.

Addresses and contacts

Application forms may be available to download their website.
Contact details:
European Structural Investment Funds
Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership 
100 Longwater Avenue 
Green Park 
0118 945 0200