Category: News

Calderdale celebrates Enterprise with a month of business boosting events!

A month-long celebration of business and enterprise in Calderdale is taking place with events throughout March. 

Organised and run by AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded start-up programme, and with input from professional business and education support service providers including Leeds Beckett University, Halifax Business Improvement District, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, Calderdale Council and Calderdale College, Calderdale Enterprise Month will take place from 1 to 31 March.

The four-week schedule of free events, workshops and networking sessions, aims to bring people and businesses together from across the region to share their thoughts, experiences, innovations and ideas.

The focus throughout the month will be on exploring and celebrating the themes that have been shared from Calderdales #Vision2024 initiative, including distinctiveness; kindness and resilience; and enterprising and talented.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Cllr Barry Collins, said: 

“We’re delighted to support Calderdale Enterprise Month, which will bring together professionals offering a range of help and advice to those that are thinking about launching a company or have plans for future growth.

“The project will complement the Council’s Enterprise social media takeover week, which will run from 4-10 March, highlighting the enterprising nature of Calderdale residents and businesses and building awareness of our joint Vision2024 for Calderdale.”

Sarah Carling, programme manager for AD:VENTURE commented:

“We know that there’s a diverse, energetic and innovative business community in Calderdale and we want to nurture and encourage greater engagements between organisations that are starting-up and scaling-up.

“With a full schedule of free workshops and networking sessions, there has never been a better time for businesses to make the most of the support that is on offer to them.”

Connecting and boosting the business community, free events will focus on apprenticeships, start-ups, scale-ups, marketing, sales, tax, finance, leadership, networking and planning.

With a culture of collaboration, there is likely to be a session to meet with the needs of most organisations; for those that can’t find what they are looking for, there will be sign-posting available to the relevant services.

For further details and with a packed calendar of events to choose from, individuals are encouraged to register their interest to avoid disappointment. Please see calendar below:

EVENTS WC Mon 4th March
Fri 1 March Ad:Venture Marketing for Growth BOOK
4th-9th March Calderdale Apprenticeship week (Calderdale College) 4th-9th March BOOK
Weds 6 March Calderdale Apprenticeship Event BOOK
Weds 6 March FSB Making Tax Digital BOOK
EVENTS WC Mon 11th March
Tues 12 March Ad:Venture – Start Your Own Business Drop in Session BOOK
Tues 12 March Ad:Venture – Building an Effective Sales Function BOOK
Weds 13 March Halifax BID training evening – Understanding Your Business Finance BOOK
Weds 13 March We Are Calderdale BOOK
Weds 13 March HOT Networking BOOK
Weds 13 March New or Nervous to HOT Networking Workshop BOOK
Thurs 14 March Ad:Venture – Fundamentals of Finance – Halifax Central Library BOOK
EVENTS WC Mon 18th March
Tues 19th March Ad:Venture – Day 1 Leadership Qualities of Successful Business Owners BOOK
Thurs 21 March March Ad:Venture Digital Shift Day BOOK
EVENTS WC Mon 25th March
Tues 26 March Ad:Venture – Day 2 Leadership Qualities of Successful Business Owners BOOK
Weds 27 March Innovation Network – From Start-Up to Scale up– How to grow fast and avoid the pitfalls BOOK
Weds 27 March Halifax BID training evening – Planning for Business Success BOOK
Fri 29 March Digital Calderdale Breakfast TBC
Fri 29 March Jelly Co Working BOOK

  

         

Pitch with Confidence, a story of Human Spirit

When people discuss business support programmes the hot topic is usually grant funding and finance. Well, we have some news for you. The experience of start-ups who have accessed business support products show we shouldn’t underestimate the value and positive impact that the practical services delivered by professionals can have at those crucial stages in the growth journey.

Helen Nothard had come to a crossroads in her professional journey. With an 18-year career and as a Chartered Fellow in HR and having been offered a promotion that would see her travel the world, she realised that despite the benefits package, salary and status, she wanted to take the step and become her own boss and so launched Human Spirit Ltd.

Helen is an expert in her industry and had enjoyed a successful career, but actually launching a business was a daunting task and Helen hadn’t considered all of the additional processes, procedures and skills she would need to know.

Helen says: “I’d worked for someone else for 20 years and just didn’t have a clue about the things I needed to consider outside of my role. It wasn’t just about being the best at what I was offering my clients, it was about understanding how to register a company, knowing what paperwork needed filing and when!”

That was when Helen met AD:VENTURE advisor, Alan Thompson, who was able to explain about the programme and the huge range of support that it could offer to start-ups and scale-ups. 

Helen adds: “I worked with Alan to look at my business plan and he was very good at getting me to hone my message. Suddenly it made sense to focus on one thing rather than trying so hard to be all things to all people, a trap that I now realise lots of start-ups fall into.”

She had a strong network around her that could give her the expert advice she needed, and Helen also found that she could call upon her advisors to give her the additional confidence she needed when looking to pitch for larger contracts.

Helen comments: “Although I had previously dismissed tenders, Alan had real confidence in me and made me look at these opportunities slightly differently. There was a voice in my head saying ‘I can’t do this’ but we worked together to change that mindset and decided that I would look at this as a live practice and so that’s what I did.”

The outcome? Not only did Helen submit her tender but was invited to present and subsequently won the contract with a leading public sector organisation. Well done Helen!!!

She continues: “It I hadn’t had the support from AD:VENTURE I wouldn’t have had the courage to go for a tender. It’s not about my self-belief or knowing that I can deliver for my customers, it’s about taking steps that are very much outside of my comfort zone.

“Having a business can be isolating, especially when you’re used to working for big corporations, but with the support from AD:VENTURE I’ve had access to professional training sessions, advisors and a network of trusted partners, I can’t recommend the programme enough!”

So when you are launching a business, don’t dismiss the value of programmes like AD:VENTURE – Whether it’s accessing networks, pitching your product, having that honest, experienced critical friend, finding those crucial connections or understanding how to plan for growth, there is lots of help and support in addition to funding and finance.

NEW PRODUCT MAKES GLOBAL SPLASH THANKS TO £20,000 FROM AD:VENTURE

Hydro-flux, the company providing innovations to simplify swimming pool installation and maintenance, is celebrating thanks to a £20,000 match-funded grant from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme supporting start-up and young businesses from across the Leeds City Region.

Launching in October 2017, the business set out with the ambition to create products that would make the installation and maintenance of swimming pools simpler, safer and more environmentally friendly.

With the design for the FlowBright, a swimming pool lighting system that would illuminate without the need for complex installations, expensive additional equipment or electrical costs, the company recognised that it needed some assistance to take its idea to the next stage.

Turning to AD:VENTURE, the company worked alongside a dedicated Business Advisor, Paul Tansey, to put together detailed plans, forecasts and targets. Once complete, the organisation was assessed for its eligibility to access grant funding from the programme and secured just under £20,000.

Using the funds to change a large warehouse into furnished offices, the business was able to purchase furniture, computers, printers, and the tooling equipment required to manufacture the product, making it a viable innovation to take to market.

Director at Hydro-flux, Michael Burnham, comments: “Without AD:VENTURE there is no way we could have put our idea into practice. Not only did we need some guidance and governance to make sure we were following the necessary processes, but we were also finding it difficult to raise the funds, as the equipment and tooling isn’t cheap.

“Securing the grant made all of the difference and we went from kitchen table to furnished offices almost overnight. It was great. Not only was the environment different but our mindset and the way that we approached the business changed.”

 

Michael Burnham, with Paul Tansey from Ad-Venture, at Hydro-Flux, Batley, Yorkshire

 

Roger Marsh, OBE Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I am very pleased that Kirklees-based Hydro-flux was able to turn their ideas into a reality with support from AD:VENTURE.

“It is great that innovative and ambitious businesses like Hydro-flux are able to access the finance and support they need for equipment and premises, enabling them to meet their growth ambitions.”

Attending the International Pool, Spa and Patio Expo in Las Vegas and the Piscine Global, Swimming Pool and Wellness Exhibition in France during November, the company had its first opportunity to showcase the FlowBright, which is the most environmentally friendly lights on the market, as it contributes zero carbon emissions during its operational lifetime.

Engaging with global distributors the business owners were overwhelmed with the interest in the product and in addition to two signed agreements, they have further partnership opportunities in Dubai, British Columbia, Romania and Turkey to consider.

Director at Hydro-flux, Michael Burnham, comments: “The response to the product has been really positive. We expected interest in the innovation but certainly not to sign two distributor agreements there and then!

“This experience has given us further confidence and reassurance in the potential that our business has moving forward. There really is nothing like the FlowBright on the market and as we have taken the time and effort to patent the technology, we know we have a real niche that we now need to capitalise upon.”

Using the feedback from its FlowBright product, Hydro-flux is now working on other innovations that will allow it to capitalise upon the technology that it has patented and meet with the challenges that it knows pool installers and maintenance staff are faced with.

For further details about Hydro-flux please visit www.hydro-flux.com or call 01924 472665 and for more information about AD:VENTURE and the range of sessions, workshops, support and funding that the programme offers please visit, www.ad-venture.org.uk.

£6000 of Scale-Up support from Leeds Beckett University

Workspace offer for NEW AD:VENTURE clients at Leeds Beckett University Business Centre’s

Free office facilities & a chance to win over £6,000 of business support

Leeds Beckett University is offering businesses the chance to kick start their growth plans in 2019 with a package of free support worth over £6000!

Eligible businesses will be able to register their business address and enjoy access to hot desking space at one of the University Business Centres in Leeds, Wakefield and Halifax for 6 months completely free of charge as part of the fantastic Grow Your Business offer.

All businesses will also benefit from a one to one diagnostic to help tailor a package of support through the ERDF funded Ad:Venture programme which includes expert mentoring, masterclasses and consultancy. Each business can access a minimum of 12 hours support to help fuel growth, increase turnover, create jobs or develop new products and services.

Businesses can also enter the annual Business Advantage Awards where 5 businesses can win a year’s free accountancy and legal support and 3 years free business banking (worth in excess of £6,000) Free specialist support will be offered through corporate partners – Yorkshire Bank, Lupton Fawcett, WGN, Exa Networks, The Yorkshire Post, Calderdale Council, Wakefield Council and Wakefield College. The awards deadline is the 27th February 2019.

By signing up to the AD:VENTURE programme through Leeds Beckett University business can take advantage of this incredible offer, as well as benefiting from a whole range of support across the region including access to growth grants worth £25,000, mentoring, networks and business development events.

‘’Working with Leeds Beckett University and AD:VENTURE has given us the space and time to grow faster and in a more sustainable way. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support that we have received.

We have a stronger understanding of who we are, why we’re doing this and who we should target. Moving to our new offices at the University Business Centre is a huge step forward for us and we are looking forward to what the future holds.’’ (Andy Jack, Candle Digital, An AD:Venture supported business).

The offer is open to new and growing businesses less than 3 years old and located in the Leeds City Region and is available to eligible businesses until July 2019.

For information about the offer, our Centres, eligibility and the support that is offered by AD:VENTURE please contact us:

www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/universitybusinesscentres

e: ubc@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

t: 0333 555 8855

 

AGENCY GETS ITS ‘WISH’ AS TURNOVER INCREASES 60% IN TWELVE MONTHS

Wish Digital, based just outside of Wetherby are celebrating after securing multiple account wins including Capita Customer Management, adding four new members to the team and increasing turnover by 60% in the last year.

Following an office move to a new Granary building, the business applied for a match-funded grant from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF programme supporting start-up and young businesses across the Leeds City Region, that would be used to put the infrastructure in place that would see its planned expansion become a reality.

Securing more than £7,000, the agency used the funds to fit out the office space and purchase equipment that would give digital marketers and developers access to the latest MAC computers and latest software, while older equipment was upgraded.

Wish Digital Ltd. Photography Bruce Fitzgerald

Director at Wish Digital, Chris Kell, comments: “It’s been a really strong year for us here at Wish and we have to attribute some of that to the funding we secured from AD:VENTURE. Having a professional office space, with leading equipment and facilities that give the right impression when you welcome clients should never be underestimated.

“Securing accounts, expanding the team and increasing our turnover has really set the foundations for the year ahead. As we consider our next three years we will be accessing the practical support and events that the AD:VENTURE programme offer and would encourage other young businesses with ambitious targets to do the same.”

Roger Marsh, OBE Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Accelerating the growth of businesses across Leeds City Region is key to achieving a strong, successful economy and the support and funding businesses can access through AD:VENTURE is helping to achieve just this.

“I am delighted to hear that Wetherby-based Wish Digital is winning new customers, growing their team and increasing turn over and will continue to access the support available through AD:VENTURE as it continues to grow.”

With 16 staff working across the Wish Group, which provides specialist digital and marketing services to organisations of all sizes, the company has plans to extend its client portfolio to include more household names and blue-chip brands in the next twelve months.

For further details about Wish Digital, please visit: www.wishdigital.co.uk or call 0113 4684340 and for information about the AD:VENTURE programme and the practical and match-funded support it offers, please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk.

Northern Max boosting Bradford Tech and Digital Start-Ups!

What

Named as the best city in the UK to start a business in 2017* and with ambitions to build on its industry and sector strengths to drive innovation, increase productivity and create wealth, Bradford has a lot to shout about, not least the support it offers to young companies.

Following the success of the first Northern Max programme, the initiative is back, with young start-ups across the region encouraged to get involved. Registrations have already been flooding in,

Taking place from 5 February 2019, the programme will focus on growing  new talented digital companies across the region. While the objective of the programme is to enhance and expand the tech and investor community, this will also have a long-term and positive impact on the wider economy.

By providing access to innovation, investment and technical and business expertise it will enable delegates to scale their organisation quickly. Northern Max is free for eligible companies to attend and is part of the wider AD:VENTURE programme, funded through Bradford Council, regional partners and the European Regional Development Fund.

Launch of Northern Max 2
l-r Kyran Parker and Richard Sutcliffe
03.12.18

Richard Sutcliffe, Director from Agency for Good, comments: “As a relatively new business, we were looking for practical support we could access that would allow us to put our plans into action faster and bring our ambitions forward. That is why we have registered with Northern Max. We’ve heard how other young companies have been positively influenced and want to make sure that we are doing all that we can to access the guidance that we feel we need during these early stages.”

Kyran Parker, Director from Redkite Innovations, the delivery partner for the programme, comments: “We are absolutely delighted to be the delivery partner for Northern Max. RedKite Innovations is passionate about helping organisations, large and small, to grow and develop through our programme of bespoke support. Our team are looking forward to meeting with, and making a difference to, businesses from Bradford and the wider Leeds City region.”

Cllr Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “We have an objective in place to be the UK’s fastest growing economy in the next decade. As well as being ambitious, we are realistic and that means that we must work with others to achieve this. Giving young companies and entrepreneur’s access to programmes like Northern Max will make all of the difference.

“Having programmes that are delivered by industry specialists and professionals gives businesses the support network they need. In turn, this allows them to expand and grow quickly, but also sustainably, so that they can share their success both now and in the future.”

Business who access the programme will have the opportunity to explore diagnostics to identify growth opportunities and set action plans. They can access one to one coaching; specialist events on key topics such as business strategy, marketing, sales and scaling a business; partnership development; HR and recruitment; operations systems and processes and guidance on accessing funding.

The programme was fully booked during the first phase, and is generating a great deal of interest. Businesses should register you interest now to avoid missing out: https://ad-venture.org.uk/northernmax2/

For more information about AD:VENTURE and the wider schedule of workshops, seminars, events and activities please visit, www.ad-venture.org.uk or call, 0845 524 0210.

Equal Care Co-op are Crowdfunding! – a new co-operative owned by care workers and the people they support

SME Funding

This is such a great story we had to share it – Ambitious and ethical start-up, Equal Care Co-op are crowdfunding to change the balance on of power in the provision of care services. Based at the University Business Centre in Halifax, this start-up is one to watch.

Read on to discover why……..

Imagine if Uber was owned by its drivers. Imagine if taskers got to make decisions about how TaskRabbit was run. This is exactly what Equal Care proposes to bring to social care with its exciting and radical new business model.

Equal Care Co-op is the UK’s first social care platform co-operative. The team are setting out to change the traditional homecare industry, refocusing the power, choice, and control onto the most important people involved: the people receiving the care and the people providing it – be they paid or unpaid, a family member or a professional carer.

This is a real gig economy alternative that pays equal attention to the rights of workers and the rights of those they support.

The gig economy has received a great deal of publicity in recent years – not all of it good. The formula has – inevitably – extended to the world of care work and there are now some established platforms offering a vetted labour pool and easy process for booking care workers of your choice.

However, the existing gig-economy platforms are vulnerable to the same criticisms levelled at nearly all companies operating such a business model. The worst-offending companies tell care workers that they have to offer a flat rate, that any bad review will knock them straight off the platform (one strike and you’re out) and that too many rejections of work opportunities will also push them off the platform.

On the other hand, some of the better platforms have gone on to become care providers in their right. Others remain as introductory agencies, avoiding the regulatory requirements involved in care provision, maintaining their status as technology services companies rather than providers of care.

All of these platforms are privately owned, and all of them retain a value-extraction based business model which charges a commission on every hour of care given. In most cases, these companies are angling for an exit from the market and a windfall for the founders and early-stage investors.

Equal Care Co-op has a different focus. By changing the balance of power that currently exists in services, some magical things can happen: people choose who supports them, workers get paid a decent wage, the huge levels of turnover in care services can stop. And people being supported get a chance to help others too.

Big ideals do not map well onto big profits, so Equal Care Co-op’s start-up route is a grant-dependent, CrowdFunder-led one. It will be making use of Community Shares – a recent investment vehicle only open to co-operative and community benefit societies. However, the equity-loaded finance that drives most ventures of this type is closed to them.

Founder Emma Back said: “We’re looking at strawberry patch principles, sociocracy based growth models and federated structures. There are many possibilities for growth that don’t entail becoming enormous and monolithic, but where you can still be large enough to offer a real alternative to the private companies taking UK care contracts.”

Equal Care Co-op recently participated in the world’s first platform co-operative accelerator, designed by Co-operatives UK and funded by the Co-operative Bank.

Ed Mayo, Secretary-General of Co-operatives UK, observed: In Equal Care we have a viable, alternative and pioneering model for social care as well as platform co-ops, and we’re incredibly excited to see what the future holds. Co-operatives UK has been delighted to support Equal Care in its development – through UnFound, an accelerator for platform co-op, and through The Hive, our support programme for co-operatives in partnership with The Co-operative Bank”

Fran Watson, Founder Member of Equal Care and an independent care worker herself, says: “The biggest issue for me was having the reassurance of getting enough work and having the right amount. It’s finding the work that takes the time and effort. I know of no independent care workers who do 15-minute slots. You just can’t do it. The options are either to go with an agency or go it alone.”

Equal Care has now launched the invitation-only, first iteration of their platform. They are a co-operative that prioritises power, money and decision-making truly sitting on the front line, thus offering potential for community-led scale.

Equal Care aren’t rolling in venture capital, they are bootstrapping with the best of them, but they need help. They have just released their Christmas CrowdFunder and are looking for support to help get the vision flying. Please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/equal-care-co-op and help change social care.

BLOG SPOT – THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO START A BUSINESS

SME grants

It often takes people years to make the decision to start a company and even then, there is a lot of planning and preparation to make it a viable and profitable enterprise, however this shouldn’t put prospective business owners off, as there has never been a better time to start-up.

Focusing on the Leeds City Region, there is an abundance of support available to start-ups and young businesses including workshops, training sessions and seminars and many of them are free of charge!

Long gone are the days when people had to worry about how they would learn about finance, marketing, business planning and the necessary administrative skills that come with owning a business, a quick internet search will give you a lengthy list of professionals that you can turn to.

Practical help and advice from those that have a proven track record is incredibly useful when you start out and knowing that these sessions are often facilitated through universities or public sector funded bodies provides further credibility by association.

Launching a business should be exciting but it can often be surprisingly isolating too when you are working all of the hours to get your idea off the ground. Building on the practical support that is available locally, there are also strong networks which can be a real lifeline.

There are many networking groups throughout the Leeds City Region and so it is worthwhile trying them all at least once to see which suits you the best. There is no need to go along to something you don’t enjoy when you have an abundance to choose from, so consider your objectives and find the group that you feel will be of most use to you.

As well as accessing suppliers and possible customers, these organised gatherings can also give you the chance to meet with people that will become life-long friends, supporters and advocates of your business and this really can be invaluable.

Having the chance to develop trusted relationships and to speak to others that are likely to be in the same – or a similar position – will give you a platform to share your concerns, which can then be addressed in a group setting providing reassurance and advice.

Interestingly, in addition to practical support and strong networks, throughout the Leeds City Region there is also the opportunity to apply for grant funding. This can give young companies the chance to take their longer-term ideas and make them happen.

As well as focusing on short term goals, we all know it’s important to have a three or five-year plan in place and that is where grants can really come into play. Putting targets in place of what you hope to achieve is the first step and asking for funds to bring those forward is the next.

Some of the funding programmes that are available can be found in a previous article from Yorkshire Powerhouse here.

There is absolutely no reason why a business should struggle when there are programmes available that can offer professional support, networking and grants, it makes no sense what-so-ever. Taking advantage of the opportunities that are available will not only benefit your business but it’s what they are there for and the more people that use them, the more likely they are to continue.

If you want to make the most of the infrastructure that the Leeds City Region has to offer simply follow the suggestions below:

  1. Take five minutes to do a quick search on the internet to find local organisations that can provide you with practical support, for example AD:VENTURE is perfect for start ups with a growth focus!
  2. Think about the skills you are lacking and choose the course, sessions and seminars that will give you access to professionals that can help
  3. Look into networking groups and make it a priority to visit one a month – don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much, it will be counter productive
  4. Write down what your short and longer-term plans are – if you haven’t already – and consider what you could achieve if funding was available
  5. Pick up the phone and speak to a dedicated business advisor about how you can get the best from the programmes in your local area

It is important to remember that unlike traditional businesses many of the organisations that are delivering support actually work together rather than competing so it’s fine to ask them if there are any other opportunities that you can capitalise upon.

They will put you in touch with other programmes that could take your business from standing start to success story.

So……what are you waiting for?

Inspiring Business 2018 – Extended Deadline and Increased Prize Package for Yorkshire & Humber Firms!

small business events

James Legal is appealing for businesses in the Yorkshire & Humber region to ‘be inspired’ to enter its competition for more than £24,000 worth of support.

The ‘InspiringBusiness2018’ initiative offers support to help businesses grow to the next level. The programme is led by a series of inspiring seminars delivered by businesspeople who have ‘been there, done that’ and made those mistakes, and culminating in a competition to find the inspiring business of 2018.

The campaign is aimed at giving the region’s substrata of businesses that underpin the local economy acknowledgement and support.

This year, working with partners in complementary fields like banking, business support, finance and marketing, the funder will be offering a focused mixture of assistance to one ‘creative and driven’ business, worth over £24,000.

The partners’ contributions to the prize fund include, for example:

A year’s free legal support worth £5,000 from James Legal, including a review and re-write of policies and contracts, and access to our business legal advice service.Tender and bid-writing support from The Marketplace worth up to £6,000, starting with a detailed procurement and supply chain assessment, and, potentially, a 12-month supply of tender reports and help with identifying, completing and submitting one grant funding application.A free website design or online marketing support, worth £5,000 for Mobius Media.

Businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber that have gained some traction already, perhaps with a successful track record or on the cusp of success are eligible.

From sole traders to firms employing hundreds of people, the provider wishes to find and help companies that excel in what they do, and can demonstrate qualities such as drive, innovation, vision and creativity.

The deadline for applications to be received has been extended by two months; to 31 December 2018 APPLY HERE

BLOG SPOT: Digital Shift – Transforming Calderdale’s digital and creative landscape

start-up advice3

By Deborah Hetherington, Business Engagement Manager at Leeds Beckett University

The Ad:Venture programme aims to help businesses within the Leeds City Region reach their full potential. There are several partners involved in the project, each of whom offer their own set of specialist skills in order to assist startup and scaleup companies to grow.

Here at Leeds Beckett, we concentrate on the support we can offer to digital businesses. This can be made up of academic support in the areas of digital marketing, business planning, pitching techniques, the art of selling and so on. We also offer student research projects, access to our app studio, a wide range of masterclasses, events, funding, incubation space, and a variety of other business support. We have branded this arm of the Ad:venture project as ‘Digital Shift’.

When I was brought on to the project, I was tasked with increasing awareness of Ad:Venture specifically within Calderdale.

Leeds Beckett’s aim in Calderdale is two-fold; we want to play a valuable part in growing the expanding digital eco-system, and we want to have an impact on local startups’ bottom lines. We want to see more startups becoming scaleups and we believe our Digital Shift offering has a genuine and credible role to play in that journey. Within my first few months in Calderdale I have managed to meet with collaborators from local public, private and third sector partners who all share the same vision. We have a great relationship with the council and it’s rewarding to work with such a forward facing, innovative organisation.

I have been pleasantly surprised at just how much activity is already taking place throughout the Valley. There is a growing digital community made up of some fantastic co-working spaces filled with successful digital companies, a range of networking activities and strong local business support.

“We want to have a tangible impact on business outputs and productivity.”

Leeds Beckett wants to add to that business support by offering our vast range of academic and industry business knowledge and expertise to digital SMEs within the region. We want to have a tangible impact on business outputs and productivity. Through meeting with a range of startups already, the feedback we are getting around the programme is very positive. The spectrum of businesses I personally engage with is incredibly broad, ranging from a chatbot specialist whose company is one month old through to an e-commerce business who already have an impressive turnover and are looking to hire a management position imminently.

The type of guidance and support we give is bespoke to the company; from basic business planning and funding, right through to the more advanced industry coaching and assistance through the scaleup process. Andy Banks, Founder of Venture Forge, an e-commerce consultancy Firm, says about the Ad:venture programme: “The programme provides a good balance of knowing where I would need value input and equally where I don’t. It gives me confidence that the support we will receive will be right for us and not some kind of one size fits all approach.”

Andy goes on to comment on Calderdale’s potential as a digital centre: “We’ve got massive potential. Calderdale is full of great businesses looking to grow digitally. With the recruitment of digital people always being challenging, being located halfway between Leeds and Manchester puts Calderdale right in the middle of two pools of amazing digital talent.”

UBC mainThe University Business Centre, that officially opened at the end of September and already has an impressive array of tenants, is proving to be a successful catalyst for engagement.

We have started running monthly digital breakfast mornings allowing the digital community to come together and network whilst simultaneously providing knowledge transfer seminars from local industry experts on a plethora of sector specific topics. We are holding full day workshops specific to taking businesses to the next step of productivity, and not to forget the three-day Digital Shift Summit we held at the end of September.

The Summit saw a range of industry experts from the likes of marketing agency Woven, through to BJSS and Sky Betting and Gaming offering their expertise and knowledge to 40+ eligible businesses. The range of workshops from the event included ‘Practical Business Planning’, ‘Mentoring to Hire’, ‘Accessing Finance’ and ‘The Future of Video’ to name a few.

Feedback from the event was entirely positive, some of the delegates commented on the business planning workshop:

“The workshop was challenging but in a really good way.
Excellent and interactive, very useful exercises.”

“Really interesting, good session, highlighted gaps in what I’m doing and where I need to spend more time.”

As a university, we are very excited to play our part in growing the digital eco-system in Calderdale and we encourage all eligible businesses and intermediary organisations to get in touch to see if we can add value to your company and business relationships.

You can read more about how you can benefit from the project here. 

start-up advice1