New business owners across North and West Yorkshire are being urged to sign up for free support during these unprecedented times – with the call backed by a successful luxury fashion brand based in Leeds.

Business support programme AD:VENTURE has moved its events and support online during the coronavirus lockdown. But its business advisers are keen to stress they are still working hard behind the scenes to offer a helping hand.

AD:VENTURE supports pre-start and new businesses which have been trading for up to three years and who have ambitions for growth, with a mix of offerings, including mentoring, events, access to finance and grant funding.
Since the programme started at the end of 2016, AD:VENTURE, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has helped more than 3,000 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region, and approved over 160 grants to help start-up businesses grow.

Sarah Carling, AD:VENTURE programme manager, said: “Our advisors are here to support new business owners in these really tough times.

“As a new and growing business there are always so many things to consider, particularly in the current situation it can seem like you are literally spinning plates. With so much to do, it is easy for new business to feel there are too busy to access support. But this can be when it is most important. AD:VENTURE is here to provide that support.

“We can provide a listening ear, be a critical friend and offer practical help to overcome the real challenges ambitious businesses are facing currently; that might be funding or training or advice. Whatever a business needs, we will do our bit to help.”

Among those who have received help from AD:VENTURE was Leeds-based AVIE, which was awarded a £2,300 grant to buy high-quality photography equipment. Grants of up to £25,000 are available from AD:VENTURE if they are match-funded by the business.

Founder Sonya Bachra-Byrne said: “Using the new equipment gave me a competitive edge that allowed a start-up business like AVIE seem very polished and established from the get-go, which is vital in the fashion industry.”

The resulting photographs and videos shot by her husband Liam meant AVIE was invited to attend Paris Fashion Show, to feature in several shops and online retailers, and to be selected by SKY Media’s new scheme, the AdSmart SME250 Support Fund, offering small businesses a 30-second free TV advertising campaign this month.

Sonya said: “I can’t believe how far we have come as a business already and a lot of that is thanks to the support from AD:VENTURE. Working with them was a catalyst that propelled us forward as a business. My AD:VENTURE mentor was amazing at putting us in touch with the right people and the grant really helped us get to the next level. Without that support I think I would have struggled for the next four or five years.”

As well as financial support and mentoring, AD:VENTURE offers seminars and workshops, which have now gone online. Upcoming webinars will cover everything from strategic marketing and networking skills to data protection and advertising law. Eligible businesses can book via the AD:VENTURE website:

AD:VENTURE’s partners include the region’s nine local authorities, including Leeds City Council; the Business Enterprise Fund; the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, and higher education partners, including Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University.