Category: News

Ad:Venture new Business Grant supports bridal boutique to bring couture design to Yorkshire

Stephanie Moran, local bridal designer announces the opening of her first showroom after securing an investment boost in the form of a new business grant, taking her from back bedroom to boutique business. The grand opening of the ‘by appointment only venue’ will see Stephanie’s first foray into the bridal world.

Thanks to the AD:VENTURE start-up and growth grants, which provide businesses with the opportunity to reach their potential within the first three years of trading, Stephanie secured £3,800 to help towards creating a welcoming and individual environment and experience for the modern bride and bridal party.

During a meeting with a business growth advisor from Selby Council and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Stephanie realised that to expand her company and push forward with her plans she would benefit from additional support and guidance.

Referred to a dedicated advisor from AD:VENTURE, Stephanie worked through the programme to identify her goals and put together a more formal business plan, whilst also receiving further details about the AD:VENTURE start-up and growth grants.

Stephanie comments: “I was working as a freelance and although I was securing commissions I was finding it hard to work out how to take my business to the next stage. That’s when I was informed of AD:VENTURE and I realised that with some support I could put my plans into practice.

“I knew that my real ambition and longer-term goal was to open a couture bridal boutique with studio and showroom, thanks to the opportunity to gain funding, I was able to do this. My brides deserve the very best and with the boutique that’s exactly what I am able to give them.”

Celebrating the recent opening of Stephanie Moran Couture, the Tadcaster boutique showcases an exciting and diverse environment where brides can create their own unique bridal vision. The boutique also houses the first signature collection and offers a sketch to dress experience for brides-to-be up and down the country.

In addition to the personal bridal service that the boutique can now offer, Stephanie will also work with other outlets to offer her designs and extend her audience to include trade suppliers as well as direct customers.

The Leader of Selby District Council, Cllr Mark Crane, said, “We’ve been investing to deliver a range of business support, as part of our work to offer practical help to businesses across the Selby district who want to grow.  This is about us helping to bring investment to our town centres, to ensure they thrive into the future.  Tadcaster is definitely on the up again after the floods of a few years ago and through programmes such as AD:VENTURE we help the town to reach its potential.”

AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded programme providing dedicated support to eligible young and new businesses who have strong growth ambitions, provides enterprises with the chance to apply for a match-funded Grant of up to £25,000.

To benefit from the programme, companies are asked to evidence through a written business plan how the contributions would be used to support the next steps in their business journey and what difference it would make to their future success.

Recognising that start-ups and smaller enterprises may not have a formal business plan in place, and that the process may be somewhat overwhelming, AD:VENTURE also provides practical support through a network of dedicated advisors.

As well as providing guidance, AD:VENTURE business advisors can also provide access to a schedule of master classes, workshops and events that focus on a range of essential areas such as marketing, branding, market research and financial forecasting that applicants may want to attend in order to strengthen their applications.

For further details please visit the Ad:Venture website, follow @Adventure_LCR or call 0845 5240210.


Wakefield’s reputation for nurturing talent within the music industry received a further boost last week as the first Music Futures masterclass took place at Wakefield One, bringing together leading experts from the music and live events industry to share their experiences with members of the district’s creative, digital and IT community.

Funded by AD:VENTURE, Music Futures kickstarted its programme for start-up businesses with the ‘Introduction to the Digital Music Industry’ masterclass, putting the spotlight on how labels, publishing and the Live Industry operates today in a digital world.

The session, which marked the first of 6 events that have been established to support this vibrant and emerging industry within the Leeds City Region, attracting an enviable line-up of entrepreneurs including Patrick Cloherty, Sentric Music; Steve Davis, SSD Concerts; Andy Smith, Kendal Calling; Kameil Sattar, Proper Music Distribution; Achal Dillon, Killing Moon and Rob Nancollas, Motive Unknown.

Jim Mawdsley from Generator, designers of the Music Futures programme comments: “There is real growth within live and recorded music, only this week the industry reported a six per cent growth and a contribution of £4.4 billion into the UK economy*.

“This is a staggering amount and demonstrates the opportunity for those starting out or considering a business within this innovative sector.

“Wakefield is already recognised for its forward-thinking approach, with Production Park and Tileyard each playing a role in inspiring and showcasing best in class. This programme provides the practical steps to help our local businesses push forward in the exciting industry and has received fantastic feedback from those who took part.”

Designed by Generator and led by Wakefield Council as part of the ERDF funded AD:VENTURE programme, future masterclasses will cover topics including VR/AR/XR streaming, digital led marketing strategies and complex industry rights, while also offering access to incredible coaching opportunities from music industry specialists including Tileyard and Production Park.

Delegates at the event provided positive feedback including the following updates which we shared across twitter:

Scott Wilson: “Some great talks yesterday looking forward to the next session, massive thank you to the people who took the time to come and share their knowledge and experience #musicfutures @ADVENTURE_LCR @WakefieldFirst

Isaac Tyler: “Huge props to @ADVENTURE_LCR @Wakefieldfirst and @GeneratorNE for yesterday! A day filled with some great talks from some great people in the music industry.

Sue Dyde: “@isaactylermusic and I buzzing after today’s session. Highest quality input have ever experienced and people so approachable and genuinely interested. Gamechanger. #musicteacher #adventure.

As a fully funded business accelerator programme, Music Futures events are planned throughout the year with the next masterclass taking place on Thursday 15th March Wakefield One and focusing on opportunities for the Music Industry in AR / VR.

For further details about AD:VENTURE and the extensive range of business activities, master classes and grant support that is available to start-up and recently launched enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region, please visit  and for updates about Music Futures please follow #MusicFutures #ThinkAdventure.

PwC and Sky Betting & Gaming develop taste for Lean Lunch

Lean Lunch

An innovative healthy lunch delivery service launched earlier this year in Leeds is already showing it’s appetite for growth after successful trials with two of the city’s biggest employers.

Founded in May 2017, Lean Lunch is a health conscious start-up supplying a subsidised catering service to companies who value health and wellbeing for their staff, encouraging access to a healthy lunch. Orders are made for pre-order and free delivery for companies in Leeds. The chilled meals are then delivered by environmentally friendly cycles ready to eat in fully compostable packaging, with the objective for Lean Lunch to be a zero waste food company.


The Kitchen!

The team worked with experienced chef Matthew Benson-Smith, who trained in Paris with a Michelin-starred chef and nutritionist Elizabeth Cooper to develop incredibly tasty yet super healthy meals using high quality fresh produce with no refined ingredients.

Founder and MD Sat Mann is passionate about the effects of nutrition on mental and physical health and wellbeing and after exiting from a successful recruitment company wanted to create a solution to the problem of city centre eating, crowded queues at peak times and that habit of grabbing anything to eat – unhealthy, unsustainable, not environmentally friendly and impacting on productivity.


The Team

Like most businesses, this start up began trials and testing at home, but after successfully securing grant funding of £11,200 towards project costs from the European Regional Development funded AD:VENTURE programme they have recently moved into a new custom kitted kitchen in the Cardigan Workspace. The move has already resulted in 4 full time jobs, with more to come. The AD:VENTURE scheme offers mentoring and growth support, including access to finance for companies showing high growth potential in the Leeds City Region and is looking for more companies to work with who want to boost their growth.


Sat says “It’s been an amazing experience to launch the first online healthy food delivery service in Leeds. Our ambition is to change the way people eat at work with a conviction of the positive impact this will have for both employers and employees. The early adoption of our service by PwC and SKYBET has been fantastic, it validates how forward thinking employers view the positive impact of nutrition on wellness. We are very grateful for the grant support from Adventure which has crucially supported the capital costs of launching the business”

Sat’s enthusiasm and passion was evident when two of Leeds City centre’s largest employers accepted the opportunity to trial the healthy delivery service, nutritional seminars and workshops that Lean Lunch were offering, showing their ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of their employee’s.

start-up 4

Catherine Boddington, Head of Learning & Development at Sky Betting and Gaming commented “It’s really important to us to look after the wellbeing of our people at SBG. Part of this is making it easy for people to eat delicious and nutritionally balanced food whilst they are at work… That’s what Lean Lunch offer. They deliver freshly prepared, healthy meals to our office every day, making healthy and tasty food accessible”

Richard Giles, Partner and Health and Wellbeing Leader for PwC in Leeds is a big supporter.  He commented “At PwC we believe it is important to look after the health and wellbeing of our team. Making it easy for our people to be physically active, eat well and take care of their mental wellbeing is the right thing to do from a moral and business point of view – Lean Lunch fits right into that. Delicious and nutritious food delivered to the office is a great option for us to make available to our teams. We are also now looking to introduce Lean Lunch to client events too.”


Find out more about growth support from the AD:VENTURE programme, or find out more about Lean Lunch.

BEF & FFE Microfinance scheme reaches Powerhouse milestone

SME Loans

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund BEF & FFE Microfinance scheme has loaned more than £2m to small businesses across Yorkshire, the Humber and the Tees Valley.

Bradford-headquartered Business Enterprise Fund and Doncaster’s Finance For Enterprise were named fund managers in February for the Microfinance element of the NPIF and have since provided more than 50 investments to growing SMEs.

Stephen Waud, chief executive of the BEF group, said: “Investing more than £2m through NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance demonstrates the vibrant SME market in Yorkshire, Humber and the Tees Valley, but that’s not all because we have committed to match the investments through our own funds, so that equates to more than £4m invested in that period.

“There is no sign of slowing down, with SMEs accounting for 99.3 per cent of UK private sector businesses.

“The Autumn Budget has pledged £1.7bn into the Northern Powerhouse, combined with the government’s commitment to the British Business Bank, and we continue to be in a strong position to support entrepreneurs and businesses.”

BEF has offices in Bradford, Leeds, York, Goole and Teesside, and provides loans for businesses in industries ranging from manufacturing and service providers to food and drink and hospitality. Over the next five years, it is hoping to invest upwards of £50m in Yorkshire, the Humber and the Tees Valley.

Original story by

Matthew Ord Digital Staff Writer at Insider Media

Bradford to lead high tech health start-ups

Northern Max

A new Bradford-based enterprise support programme is set to attract and develop innovative health and social technology companies in the region thanks to funding from Bradford Council and the European Regional Development Fund.

The Northern MAX (short for Northern Market Access Accelerator) is an intensive development programme designed to unlock regional potential by providing innovative start-ups with the latest technological advice, product development and business modelling support.

The programme was launched at the Smart Cities World Congress, a world-leading innovation conference in Barcelona this week, putting Bradford firmly on the global health innovation map.

In January 2018, twenty firms will be enrolled on Northern MAX which will be run in Little Germany by Bradford University’s innovative Digital Health Enterprise Zone and Innov8tive Minds who have extensive global experience in delivering innovation and entrepreneurial support.

The intensive 12 week fast track ‘accelerator programme’ will assist companies with new business customer introductions, management mentoring and access to finance and investment.

Participating companies will be able to test their new products with GPs, clinicians and commissioners from NHS and private health and care providers.

Northern MAX will help the participating entrepreneurs refine their business models in order to reduce risks and improve their chances of success.

The programme will assist managers to secure finance and contracts by training them in effective pitching techniques and introducing them to valuable investors and customers.

A recent report by the government identified Bradford and Leeds as having key strengths in med-tech innovation.

Northern MAX is part of a European Regional Development Fund AD:VENTURE Business Support Programme which is designed for businesses with high growth ideas and up to three years of trading.

Applications for Northern MAX need to be submitted by 13 Dec 2017.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This is an incredibly exciting programme for Bradford and our partners across the Leeds City Region.

“The district has strategic strengths in medical innovation and has a very strong track record in supporting and developing high tech companies so this programme presents some exciting opportunities for firms seeking to develop new health and social care technologies.”

Ian Sharp, Chief Executive, Officer of Digital Health Enterprise Zone Ltd, said: “I am very excited to be able to invite and support the most innovative early stage companies with the Northern MAX accelerator.

“This market access accelerator will help companies work through the highest risk stage of their development and prepare them for investment in their companies.”

Interested companies can find further information by visiting AD:VENTURE Northern Max


Wish Digital celebrate increased sales and grant success with relocation

Start-up funding

Wish Digital has celebrated an impressive 3rd year’s trading and the securing of European Union financial support with a move to the stunning new Granary studios near Wetherby, in the district of Harrogate.

Recent website launches for clients such as Arrow Self Drive, Animalcare Limited and Spear & Jackson, in addition to successful new European digital marketing contracts including CCL Label, the largest label manufacturer in the world, put the agency in a strong position for continued growth into 2018.

The £7,700 grant secured through the European Regional Development AD:VENTURE business programme will assist Wish in purchasing new equipment for its expanding team. The relocation has also paved the way for some new recruits, with 2 jobs created already and a further 3 over the next 6 months

Graham Swift, Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise & Economic Development for Harrogate Borough Council, an AD:VENTURE Partner commented, “Wish Digital are exactly the type of business that we want to support through this programme and are the type of business we are working to develop and attract as part of the recently adopted Harrogate District Economic Growth Strategy (2017-35) Creative & Digital being one of the Strategies key sectors. They are an ambitious, growing business creating new and high skilled jobs in the region. We were really pleased to be able to support them with the finance to build on their recent success. The new studios are a fantastic working space for their team and it’s great to see the project support this expansion for a growing business in this sector.”

“We have secured significant new business over the past six months, including clients based in Germany & Belgium,” comments Wish Digital Director Chris Kell, “the move to our new studios has been fantastic, creating a really contemporary working environment for our team, whilst the grant will help us to purchase the high end IT equipment we need to better service our clients.”

Wish Digital provide digital marketing services including website design & development, ecommerce, SEO and paid advertising services as a Google Partner.  The agency is part of the Wish Group.

An open letter from the FinTech Capital of the North

Dear Chancellor

I am delighted to see you “banging the drum” for the UK’s important and fast growing technology sector as you lead a delegation to India.

Let’s talk… selling to China

Business Mentoring

Hailing Yu, pictured, (@Hailingyu2) is the China Business Adviser of the UK Northern Powerhouse, China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), drawing on 20 years’ experience working in, running and supporting businesses in both China and the UK. Here Hailing discusses the exciting potential for Leeds City Region businesses to tap into Chinese markets through social media and e-commerce.

Money flowing to local businesses from £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

New Business Grant

The £400m Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) has announced the first investments following its launch in February, with more than £240,000 going to four SMEs across the North.

Best in class SMEs invited to become export champions

SME grants

•    Three Leeds City Region businesses already selected for national programme

•    Applications now open for cohort 3

•    Programme supports businesses to break into Commonwealth markets