NW partnership secures £240,000 to fast track businesses on road to success

A new programme designed to help local companies progress their business goals has been launched in the North West.

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 2:00 pm
Alderman Graham Warke, pictured at the launch of the Startup Acceleration Programme with Charlie Kennedy, Enterprise NW and Christina Mullen, Strabane Enterprise Agency, Louise Breslin, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Orla McNulty, SEA and Caolan Campbell, Enterprise NW  (Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Alderman Graham Warke, pictured at the launch of the Startup Acceleration Programme with Charlie Kennedy, Enterprise NW and Christina Mullen, Strabane Enterprise Agency, Louise Breslin, Derry City & Strabane District Council, Orla McNulty, SEA and Caolan Campbell, Enterprise NW (Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Led by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Enterprise North West and Strabane Enterprise Agency with support from the Community Renewal Fund, the partnership has been successful in securing £240,000 from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund to deliver a ‘Start Up Acceleration Programme’.

The scheme aims to assist individuals who have participated in the Go For It Programme, to explore their business idea further and develop their business skills.

The UK Community Renewal Fund aims to support people and communities most in need, helping them to pilot programmes and new approaches. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Alderman Graham Warke, said: “This support is very timely as we continue on the path to recovery. New business starts need guidance and support more than ever as they navigate the pitfalls of starting and running a business in a changing and uncertain environment.

“While there is much support already there to assist business start-ups, this fund aims to help new entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. I would encourage individuals to contact Enterprise North West and Strabane Enterprise Agency to find out more.”

The new programme will offer a number of exciting opportunities including two new incubation hubs being set up in Londonderry and Strabane. The Incubation Hubs will provide participants with high quality office space, admin support, access to high speed broadband/ IT Support and access to meeting and conference facilities.

Christina Mullen, chief executive, Strabane Enterprise Agency, explained: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses who will be able to avail of a wide range of support, taking the pressure off them at a critical time in their development. The incubation hubs in particular will offer some really practical assistance in terms of connectivity and workspace, which will be a real help as new businesses are often operating with limited resources. Mentoring support will provide informed guidance from experienced industry figures who have successfully overcome the same challenges starting out, which will prove invaluable for start-up businesses.”

In addition, retail opportunities via two pop up shops will be available to eligible programme participants to help them to connect with new customers and showcase their products in prime retail locations from February to June 2022. Candidates will be selected through a competitive process, with five places available in Derry and one in Strabane. This initiative will be delivered in collaboration with the Fashion and Textile Design Centre in Derry and Strabane BID.

Participants can also avail of one to one mentoring support from leading figures across a range of industries, as well as engage in a series of workshops and Entrepreneurs Forum. Successful candidates will be awarded a business grant of up to £1,000 to purchase items such as marketing materials, equipment, premises fit, rent or training to assist them in their venture, with 50 grants available.

Chief operating officer of Enterprise North West, Charles Kennedy, added: “We are delighted to have secured this package of funding, which will further enhance the support that both Enterprise Agencies and Council can distribute to local businesses over this recovery period. This vital aid will enable many local businesses to progress with plans to develop products and services and grow.

“Many people are still cautious about moving forwards after such a challenging time, but we have dedicated teams across all partners to advise and support local businesses across all sectors who need that bit of extra help and reassurance.”

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