Tag: Ad:venture

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: 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

Event for small businesses to boost their online brand

small business events

New and growing digital businesses in West Yorkshire are invited to attend a free event in Halifax around the importance of creating a strong online brand identity.

The networking event takes place on Friday 30 November at Leeds Beckett’s University Business Centre at Piece Mill in Halifax, from 8.30 to 10.30am. For more information, and to book a place, please visit www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/eiahub/events/digi-breakfast-seminar/

The event forms part of the University Business Centre’s monthly Digi Breakfast Seminar series. Speaking at this month’s breakfast will be LinkedIn trainer Nigel Cliffe, Principal Consultant at Value Exchange.

The Digi Breakfast Seminar series aims to provide a space for businesses to gain new knowledge and skills and network with other people working in the sector.

The series is delivered as part of the Digital Shift programme, within the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)-funded AD:VENTURE project, which supports young and growing businesses in the Leeds City Region, and delivered by Leeds Beckett University and Calderdale Council. The programme aims to promote the Calderdale region as a location to start and grow innovative digital and creative businesses in the UK.

Many of the activities are delivered from the University Business Centre at Piece Mill in Halifax. The Centre provides virtual office, co-working and private offices along with access to training, events and advice.

Katie Rigarlsford, Leeds Beckett University’s Business Centre and Regional Business Development Manager, said: “Since the opening of our Halifax University Business Centre we have seen a growing interest from digital and tech start-ups who are now choosing Halifax over more traditional locations such as Leeds or Manchester due to its great connectivity, transport links and the support available to help them achieve growth.”

An added benefit for businesses choosing to base themselves at the Centre is the installation of one of the fastest internet connections available in the Yorkshire region. ‘DarkLight’, provided by partners Exa Networks, is an ultrafast internet connectivity (multi-gigabit capable) which supports businesses to achieve high-level digital engagement, from video streaming to Cloud services through to large-scale data processing all along the Calderdale valley.

Exa Director, Mark Cowgill, said: “We’re proud to be at the forefront of developing the UK’s first ‘Gigabit Valley’ and to be working with Leeds Beckett University to help lay the groundwork for the next generation of digitally engaged businesses.”

 

AD:VENTURE supports 3 events to celebrate women in leadership

Business women mentoring

A series of free business events exploring the role of women in driving forward innovation and growth in business will be hosted by Leeds Beckett University across West Yorkshire as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The Women in Leadership events take place at Leeds Beckett’s University Business Centres in Halifax, Wakefield and Leeds on Monday 12 – Wednesday 14 November. For full details and to book a place at any session, please visit the women in leadership event calendar.

These business event supported by AD:VENTURE mark the closing of this year’s annual Innovation Network series, delivered in partnership between Leeds Beckett, the Yorkshire Post, Lupton Fawcett LLP, WGN Accountants, Yorkshire Bank and Exa Networks.

Speakers include: Dorothy Monekosso, Professor of Computer Science at Leeds Beckett; Eve Roodhouse, Chief Executive Economic Development at Leeds City Council; Merran McRae, Chief Executive of Wakefield Council; Rachel Engwell, Partner at Grant Thornton; Griselda Togobo, Owner and Managing Director of Forward Ladies; and Ellie MacDonald, Founder of PR, marketing and communications firm MacComms.

Speaking about the events, Professor Dorothy Monekosso said: “I studied engineering at university because I was passionate about the subject and about building things. After a decade in industry, I joined academia to pursue research. There is a serious issue with retention of female engineers compared to their male counterparts.

“We have witnessed in the past two decades an exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence in healthcare innovation. It is important that women are part of this revolution. I am currently collaborating with universities across the North of England on the Inclusion Matters project where we aim to boost the participation of under-represented groups in engineering and physical sciences.”

Eve Roodhouse said: “These events are a great opportunity to encourage more women into leadership, especially as they are being delivered in Global Entrepreneurship Week where we celebrate innovators and job creators launching start-ups that bring ideas to life and drive economic growth.

“It’s vital that women feel confident to explore their options, both within a workplace, or starting up their own business, and these Innovation Networking events will pave the way for aspirational women to access peer learning, and programmes like AD:VENTURE, designed to boost the growth of new businesses across the region.”

Women in Leadership takes place at Piece Mill in Halifax on Monday 12 November, at 9 – 11am; at the ASIC building, Wakefield College, on Tuesday 13 November from 8.30 – 10.30am; and in the Parkinson Suite, No1 Leeds, Wellington Street, on Wednesday 14 November from 8.30 – 10.30am.

Each location is the home of a Leeds Beckett University Business Centre, providing office space, meeting facilities and a programme of business support to early stage businesses who are looking to grow.

Katie Rigarlsford, University Business Centre and Regional Business Development Manager at Leeds Beckett added: ““From 2007 to 2017, women’s board representation in FTSE 100 companies raised from 11% to 28%. Since the 2008 downturn, 58% of the newly self-employed have been female. So why do women account for just 17% of business owners?

“Men are twice as likely to be entrepreneurially active as women and apparently 10% of the female population are thinking about starting up a business. So, I am interested in hearing speakers’ stories to help us better understand the issues and to start thinking about what else Leeds Beckett University can do to support women in entrepreneurship.”

AD:VENTURE is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project, bringing together universities, councils and private sector partners across the Leeds City Region to provide expert support to young businesses with an ambition to grow.

FREE FROM GLUTEN BUT NOT FROM AWARDS AS WILDCRAFT BAKES ITS WAY TO SUCCESS

Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, run by entrepreneurs Mina Allsopp and Sam Havis, is celebrating after securing three national FreeFrom Food Awards which encourage innovation and celebrate excellence in the freefrom food industry

The bakery won a Gold Award for the Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough Loaf, Silver for the Brioche, and Overall Winner for Best Product from a new start-up.

This success, which comes just 18 months after the partnership decided to work together, is in no small part thanks to the Business Growth Collective and Leadership Event run by Leeds Trinity University, which was funded by AD:VENTURE, the ERDF programme supporting start-ups and young enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region.

Developing a range of products and adding to their many free from gluten concepts meant the Directors increasingly spent more time in the kitchen, and less time working on their business strategy.

It was at this point that Sam started to look for business support and came across the Business Growth Collective and Leadership Events, which are delivered by Andy Gilliland, a former Accountant specialising in early phase business growth who is now Academic Group Leader for Business, Management and Marketing at Leeds Trinity University.

Photography by Morgan O’Driscoll on location at Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, Leeds.

The Business Growth Collective gave new businesses the chance to share their challenges and work on them collectively. Using the advice and feedback of others, each delegate would then work on their challenge at home to identify suitable and sustainable ways to take their company forward.

Sam found the leadership workshop, delivered by Ian McGregor Brown, a Senior Lecturer in Business at Leeds Trinity University, to be a relevant and timely session which enabled her to better strategically plan for growth.

Sam comments: “A business advisor had made me aware of some of the support that is available for start-up businesses and when I looked into it there was quite a few options, which was great, but I needed something that would be accessible for me and the time I could commit.

“The Business Growth Collective and Leadership events were great. I really liked the idea of talking to others in the same position, sharing experiences and using our collective knowledge to tackle each challenge. It certainly helped to refine my thoughts.”

From the sessions, Sam was relieved to get the confirmation and additional confidence she needed to know that the business was on the right tracks. Tackling the hurdle of how to get out of the bakery to work on the business, the company was able to put in place longer-term plans and has appointed two full-time and two part-time staff.

Andy Gilliland, Academic Group Leader for Business, Management and Marketing at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Hearing about the progress that Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery has made since the sessions is further evidence that we are able to make a real and positive difference to the businesses we engage with. It’s great to hear that this company has taken the advice gleaned from the sessions, put it into practice and is seeing the benefits first-hand. We wish them every success for the future and look forward to tasting some of their delicious products when we next visit.”

Ian Rowe, Director of Business Development and Knowledge Exchange at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are often asked how we measure success. Hearing stories like this, where a start-up is now a national award-winning business, is all the evidence we need. The sessions give aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to put the theory into practice and this approach is proving to be very effective.”

Making this commitment, Mina and Sam can now concentrate on running the business, which has included a renewed focus on raising the profile of the brand and taking the time to submit to national awards.

Sam adds: “Start-up companies can shy away from business events, believing that they know what they are doing, but we are a great example of how this support can help businesses to grow more quickly. We wouldn’t have made the appointments we have without the guidance we took from the Business Growth Collective and Leadership events.

“We would certainly encourage others to take a look and to see if there are any workshops, sessions or longer-term programmes that will support them with their future plans. As an award-winning business, we would certainly say it’s been worth it.”

Following its ongoing success and profile, Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery is now looking for larger industrial premises in Leeds that will allow it to extend its production and consider new routes to market including mail order.

For further details about Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery please visit: https://www.wildcraftbakery.com or for regular updates follow @WildcraftBakery. For details about the AD:VENTURE programme and how it supports start-up and young enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region please visit: www.ad-venture.org.uk and for regular updates follow @ADVENTURE_LCR.

SEAMLESS SUCCESS FOR CASTLEFORD CURTAIN MAKERS

SME Grants 2

Nationwide Curtain Makers – recipients of a sizeable grant from ERDF funded programme, AD:VENTURE – celebrated the completion of its new offices and showroom on Wednesday 27th June with a star-studded ribbon cutting ceremony, which saw the likes of famous rugby players and local dignitaries in attendance.

After successfully applying for the full £25,000 AD:VENTURE grant, the Castleford based curtain makers used the funds to facilitate the building of new meeting rooms, offices, reception area and trade showroom.

The company’s rapid growth was also thanks to support from a number of regional support programmes in addition to AD:VENTURE, namely the Leeds City Region LEP, Digital Enterprise and the Manufacturing Growth Programme, which were also instrumental in taking the business forward so quickly.

Now the family-run business has created 28 jobs for the local community, invested in a 5,500 square foot manufacturing facility and is developing its company website.

Kieran Gill and Mike McMeeken of the Castleford Tigers rugby league club cut the ribbon to the sounds of a string duet, which added a fun-filled and uplifting vibe to the proceedings, with celebrations lasting until after 8pm.

Wakefield Councillor for Castleford, Central and Glasshoughton, Richard Forster, said: “I’m here today because I wanted to show support to a business which has managed to transform itself from being a company which has grown from being a small supplier of local retail to an international commercial enterprise.

“This is a fantastic example of how local investment makes a dramatic and tangible difference to smaller businesses, delivering remarkable results for everyone involved. Castleford has a proud history of industrial heritage and Nationwide Curtain Makers have now managed to add a chapter to this.”

Mindir Paul, Business Advisor for AD:VENTURE, adds: “Nationwide Curtain Makers recognises the importance of its staff and works hard to recruit and retain the right people.

SME Grants

“The business has identified that seamstresses are hard to find these days, so they invest directly in local talent which is great news for Castleford as it provides the community with quality, skilled jobs. The grant process took around four to five months to complete but it is now wonderful to see that everything has come together.”

Nationwide Curtain Makers have also recruited staff through the Works Better programme, which helps people who want to secure employment overcome the barriers that are stopping them and is a collaboration of six partners and councils across the Wakefield district.

Nicola Boyd, who co-owns Nationwide Curtain Makers along with her husband Stephen and son James, comments: “This is our first birthday in the modern premises and we couldn’t have asked for a better turn out. We invited over 1,000 people altogether and it looks like most have them are here, which is fantastic. Guests have spent most of the day looking around the workroom seeing how we make curtains, leafing through the pattern books in our new showroom and exploring the different fabrics.

“We have been in the industry for over 20 years and have worked hard to build up our reputation – but we also recognise all of the external help and support we have been given in the form of advice, signposting and grants. This opening event was a great excuse to celebrate our success and send our thanks to everyone who has been a part of our expansion, whilst also raising over £300 for Hearing Dogs for deaf people.”

For further details about AD:VENTURE and the financial and practical support that is available from the programme please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk.

SUPPORT FROM LEEDS CITY REGION LEADS TO INNOVATION AWARD SUCCESS FOR HERIDA HEALTHCARE

Herida Healthcare Ltd, the Leeds based manufacturer of specialised dynamic and static mattresses and cushions designed to relieve pressure and friction for bed-bound patients, has been awarded the Innovative Product of the Year accolade at the National Association of Equipment Providers Awards 2018.

Becoming a national award-winning business, the company attributes its ongoing success and recognition to the support that it has received from a number of programmes that are delivered throughout the Leeds City Region.

On course to achieve a turnover of £3.5m in their third year of trading, the business has benefited from funding and practical support and guidance from AD:VENTURE, the ERDF funded Digital Enterprise Programme, the Manufacturing Growth Programme and the Business Growth Programme.

AD:VENTURE provided a match-funded grant of £11,000 to invest in manufacturing resource planning equipment, including bar coding and scanning items, along with practical support; the Digital Enterprise Programme awarded a £5,000 grant, the Manufacturing Growth Programme supported consultancy costs as the business worked towards securing ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 (2015).

As a result of the support that Herida has secured, as well as becoming a national award-winning business, it has expanded quickly which has led to the appointment of a quality control supervisor, and a dedicated customer service & telesales team, whilst future plans are now in place to recruit for a further seven jobs in sales and business development over the next twelve months.

Commenting on the support and recent award success, Managing Director, Neil Smith, said:

“I seem to be excited every time I come into work. When I see such talent and the enthusiasm that success itself creates, it’s better than anything we could acquire or implement strategically. The team within the Herida Healthcare Group of companies are some of the most professional individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with during my career.

“We’ve recruited a new Financial Controller and Marketing Manager in the last few months which is key to supporting our rapid growth. Our Export market has been instrumental to our strategic focus and this now represents around a third of our turnover. I’m really looking forward to 2018 and beyond. It’s such a privilege to lead an exceptional team.”

Operations Director for Herida, John Kay, adds:

“The board, supported financially by our Principal Investor and also programmes linked to Leeds Council and European funding, such as the Leeds City Region LEP, AD:Venture, Digital Enterprise and the Manufacturing Growth Programme have all been instrumental in taking the business forward so quickly. These parties have approved capital investment in 2017/ 2018 of around £300,000, primarily towards the purchase of leading edge manufacturing machinery and IT infrastructure”.

Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Roger Marsh OBE, comments:

“Herida is a great example of how programmes across the region are benefitting businesses through a combined approach that delivers practical support as well as grant provision. Not only does this showcase how each initiative can complement the other but also how they can support young and innovative companies to overcome hurdles to growth.

“We would like to congratulate Herida on the recent award success and very much look forward to following their enterprise journey. We are sure that there will be much more to celebrate as the business continues to flourish and becomes an example of best practice for others across the region.”

The winning award submission was based on a case study which explained that after Herida was approved by both the Moving and Handling and Tissue Viability Services, they partnered with Permobil® to combine technologically advanced insight with its specialist design and manufacturing capabilities to create the perfect hybrid mattress.

The mattress was used to address the complex and specific challenges that a bed-bound patient was experiencing, leading to chronic discomfort, as well as sores and flesh wounds caused by the position they were sitting in all day.

Despite previous attempts to work on suitable interventions for the patient, no other product had resulted in a successful outcome. Using the Herida Yorkshire, the individual is now comfortable and can lead a life free from the daily worry of infected sores.

Herida is just one company that has benefited from the help and support that can be accessed by start-ups and innovative businesses with high growth potential in the Leeds City Region. For more information about the programmes that are available, please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk.

AD:VENTURE’S APPOINTMENT TO BOOST DIGITAL HEALTH INNOVATIONS

AD:VENTURE has added further strength to its growing Yorkshire-based team with the announcement of a new Digital Health Enterprise Advisor, who aims to boost the support offered to high tech start-ups operating in the digital health sector.

Helping high-growth small businesses in realising their big dreams, Rav Panesar will be responsible for mentoring Digital Health and Medical Technology start-ups, offering them tailored one-to-one advice, guidance and support.

Not only will Rav help high-growth new and young businesses to access masterclasses around business growth, he will also support with funding and connecting his clients with specialist industry experts, including NHS Digital and research institutes.

Rav will be based in Bradford with Bradford Council’s Business, Investment and Enterprise team but will work across the whole Leeds City Region.

 

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This appointment is a great move for Bradford and our AD:VENTURE partners across the wider city region.

“The district has well established strategic strengths in medical and digital innovation with a strong track record in supporting and developing high tech companies. Having a specialist advisor on hand to support businesses in this high growth sector is excellent for the district and will support the wider economic strategy of the Council, adding even greater value to Bradford’s already excellent offer to its businesses. Following on from the very successful Northern Max programme we welcome the opportunity to nurture more businesses in digital and health technology, continuing to create a culture of enterprise and innovation for Bradford.”

Rav comments: “I really enjoy helping entrepreneurs realise their ambitions whilst reinforcing the importance of utilising technology as a vehicle to innovate within the digital health sector.  Supporting small businesses that have big ambitions has always been a passion of mine and this role provides me with the ideal opportunity to do so.”

Prior to his new role with Ad:Venture, Rav worked with young people and businesses, teaching them about the jobs of the future and pathways to securing the best career. He has also assisted several organisations to grow and develop through his experience of working on various European Funded business support programmes.

“I spend a portion of my time at the Digital Health Enterprise Zone, which is a collaborative space for academics, health professionals and businesses to get together. Here we innovate and test concepts or prototypes. It’s all very exciting.”

For further details about AD:Venture – the dynamic regional partnership which offers genuine, hands on support to new and growing businesses who have been trading for less than 36 months – please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk , follow @Adventure_LCR on Twitter – or contact Rav directly at ravinder.panesar@bradford.gov.uk 

AD:VENTURE funding supports urban farming start-up

Growing Better, the social enterprise that provides urban farming for better mental health, has secured up to £10,000 thanks to the AD:VENTURE start up funding and growth grants, which provides businesses with the opportunity to reach their potential within the first three years of trading.

The social enterprise launched in 2016 after recognising the role that urban farming can play in supporting individuals with mental health challenges. Initially relying on polytunnels to grow baby leaf salads leaves and herbs, founder of the business, Rob Moores, quickly realised that the model was unsustainable as winter weather would not provide a commercially sustainable year-round supply to local restaurants and food outlets.

Recognising that an indoor hydroponic vertical farm would provide the year-round production facilities needed, while also allowing for the temperature and conditions to be better controlled, Rob set up a crowd-funding page, securing enough investment to put the theory into practice.

He comments: “The first couple of years were a roller coaster. We’re passionate about better mental health and our research had confirmed the role that growing produce can play in achieving that. Our challenge was growing at a commercially sustainable level all year round in polytunnels – and that made the business very seasonal – which in turn limited the support we could offer people.

“Having thought long and hard we turned to crowd-funding to raise the funds needed to invest in the hydroponic vertical farm but this left us with limited cash-flow. It was effectively one huge step forward but then we were back where we started.”

Rob and his team turned to the practical support, master classes and business sessions that are offered through the AD:VENTURE programme, which in turn provided the advice, guidance and support the company required to put in place a plan that would focus on future growth.

Rob adds: “Accessing practical support from AD:VENTURE allowed us to build up our business plan and in turn to consider other options. We realised that we had the potential, with funding support, to commit to appointing three new members to the team over 2018. This in turn would allow us to support more people and to grow the business using the contributions made by AD:VENTURE as cash flow.

“Knowing that we have a business model in place that we could scale up was great. As well as working with an increasing number of people that have mental health illnesses, we have also started to supply several restaurants, which in turn gives us the funds to put back into the business.

“It’s absolutely fair to say that we wouldn’t be in the position we are today if it had not been for the practical and funding support offered by AD:VENTURE. We would encourage any eligible enterprise to do the same.”

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, enterprise and opportunity comments: “Growing Better is a great example of a social enterprise that has embraced all that AD:VENTURE has to offer. Accessing the practical support and funding programme we have in place has allowed the business to move forward and that is what we are all about.”

Since the funding was granted, the company has already taken on a new full-time member of staff, expanded its offering to provide growing kits for consumers and has also extended its engagement to work with schools to explain the benefits to home-grown produce without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

A recent public consultation was also held to share future plans to launch a Community Farm at West Leeds Activity Centre in Armley.

For further details about Growing Better please visit the Growing Better website.  For information about the support, advice and funding that is available from AD:VENTURE, please visit our Finance and Funding page.

 

RICKSHAW REVIVAL GETS BUSINESS TUK-TUKS MOVING

A Wakefield based entrepreneur that recognised the new business potential of importing and refurbishing Tuk-Tuks has helped more than 15 micro businesses since its launch just twelve months ago.

Thanks to AD:VENTURE, which provides businesses with the practical help, support and opportunity to reach their potential within the three years of trading, Ajay Sharma kick-started Rickshaw Revival.

To date 30 Tuk-Tuks have been imported from India, converted and sold. Innovative and often quirky, they are now being used for mobile marketing and as a cost-effective platform for food, drink or retail businesses.

Ajay Sharma, Managing Director at Rickshaw Revival, comments: “No matter how exciting your product is or how innovative the opportunity you sometimes need a helping hand. AD:VENTURE instilled confidence and motivated me to pursue my new business opportunity, this got me started and I have never looked back!”

business mentoring

“Through practical support AD:VENTURE helped me to better understand and meet with the regulations I needed to get my business idea moving and to develop my supply chain. This got my Tuk-Tuks noticed in the right circles and showcased their potential to brands and entrepreneurs.”

“From the highlands of Scotland to the south coast, our conversions are distributed nationally; they deliver goods, sell Prosecco, Peroni, coffee and a whole host of products at events and venues throughout the UK. We are recognised for customer service, quality and cost competitiveness and for helping to kick-start businesses in a cost effective, competitive way. We’re now looking forward to attending catering exhibitions and also to realising our ambition of establishing UK wide franchises.”

Supported by a dedicated advisor from AD:VENTURE, Ajay received practical help and support.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Regeneration at Wakefield Council, said: “Small and medium sized businesses play an important role in helping the local economy. They also support our aspiration for greater growth and prosperity for our district.”

In the first year a mixture of 30 conversions and traded Tuk-Tuks were marketed. Today one full time member of the team is employed and the business looks set to double its commissions throughout 2018 and again in 2019.

Turnover is substantial with one local engineering firm benefitting from a constant supply of business, and another one developing.

Recognising that start-ups and smaller enterprises need guidance, AD:VENTURE provides practical support through a network of dedicated Advisors.

As well as providing guidance, AD:VENTURE Business Advisors can also provide access to dedicated funded support, 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, AD:VENTURE, follow @Adventure_LCR or call 0845 5240210.