Specialist incubator launches for county’s small businesses

AN INCUBATOR designed to help fledgling companies grow and thrive in County Durham has been launched at one of the region’s fastest growing business hubs.

Durham City Incubator, based at Salvus House, in Aykley Heads, Durham, will be open to businesses that have been trading for under 12 months and are based in County Durham.  Companies will be able to tap into six months of intensive support designed to ensure they are ready for the next stage of growth, with training and advice ranging from financing and marketing to legal issues and business strategy and much more.

The incubator is a unique collaboration between Durham University, New College Durham and Business Durham, the economic development organisation, which works on behalf of Durham County Council.

Each business owner will be matched with a mentor and given support over six months. They will have the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs and connect with investors.  Businesses owners will receive a start up grant of £2,500 each and will be able to take advantage of high quality workspace at a discounted rate.

The programme is open to any companies trading for under one year.  To apply candidates will need to fill in an application form online and send in a two-minute video on why they should be part of the programme. Those successful will be invited to attend a pitching event – the first being in November/December this year. Business owners should be ambitious and committed self starters who have the drive to succeed and have plans to scale up their business to the next level.

Sarah Slaven, business development director at Business Durham, said: “There’s nothing like this in County Durham. We really want to nurture and support entrepreneurs as they grow and scale up their business in Durham. With our tailored programme of support based at our flagship space Salvus House, it will give entrepreneurs the chance to really test their business models and gain hands on experience from workshops delivered by specialists. It’s about retaining academic talent in the region and giving people the skills they need to have a business with longevity.”

The Incubator has been developed as part of a wider drive to grow the Durham City economy and to offer Durham University graduates and New College Durham student’s high quality facilities and business support to grow their ventures in Durham City.

Dr Tim Hammond, director of commercialisation and economic development at Durham University, said: “Creating a new business is an exciting career choice for an increasing number of our students. The Durham City Incubator builds upon the enterprise support provided within the university through the provision of facilities and an associated accelerator programme that assists these businesses in fully realising their ambitions.”

Dawn Fairlamb, vice principal at New College Durham, said: “As a college, regional and economic development is extremely important to us. We want to ensure that our students’ talents are harnessed and nurtured, so they can reach their full potential and make a positive contribution to the local economy. Durham City Incubator is a real opportunity for our students to develop their own business ideas and be supported with entrepreneurship. It’s fantastic to see this positive investment in the region’s young people.

“We already have a number of students who are interested in applying to develop their ideas through the incubator. We’re excited to see how these business ideas develop with the support of the Incubator.”

Durham City Incubator is part of Durham Internships and Collaborative Enterprise (DICE) which is part funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

For more information on the Durham City Incubator, log onto www.dcincubator.co.uk

Durham City Incubator

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