A Yorkshire business support programme, which has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding since its launch, has seen demand up by nearly a third this year.
AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since it was started at the end of 2016. And this year the enquiries have been up by around 30 per cent.
Programme manager Sarah Carling said: “We have seen an increase in demand for the programme since lockdown.
“We have continued to deliver support throughout year, adapting to deliver virtually where this was needed. Despite the pressures of an extremely challenging business climate, we have seen incredible resilience from the businesses we work with, and a real determination to keep moving and adapting in order to survive and grow.
“We found that one to one advice has been more important than ever, giving the business owners we support a much needed sounding board, but also helping with crucial issues like adapting their business models to cope with current challenges and accessing government funding.”
This year AD:VENTURE, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has run 116 events, mainly online, to over 1300 delegates. Topics have included strategic marketing, building effective sales, pitching your business and podcasting.
Since its launch AD:VENTURE has paid out 336 grants totalling just over £1.7m , including funds for purchasing vital equipment and refurbishing premises. The programme also offers mentoring and support from experts and academics via masterclasses and one-to-one support.
AD:VENTURE’s funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities.
In 2020 the support has included ‘Northern Max 3’ which was launched in April in Bradford and helped 21 businesses with a mix of masterclasses and mentoring; Accelerate, which was run by Leeds Beckett University and helped 40 new and young businesses; the ‘Survive and Thrive’ programme in Wakefield, which is supporting a variety of start-ups in developing and adapting their businesses to tackle Covid-19 challenges. New schemes are planned for 2021 including one for businesses in Kirklees.
Sarah said: “Consultation with clients and ongoing feedback and engagement enables us to adapt our delivery to meet the needs of our start-ups as they change.
“Heading into 2021 we know times are still tough for many businesses and we will still be here for ambitious entrepreneurs to help them on their journey. We know their success ultimately leads to the success of the city region.”
There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible; but businesses that have been supported come from a variety of sectors, including Agri-Tech, Fin-Tech, Med-Tech, health and wellbeing, digital, healthy food manufacturing and eco-construction.
One of the businesses benefiting from the programme is Proper Oats, set up by former accountant and body builder Suzanne Ferreira, from York (pictured).
The ready-to-eat overnight oats are now stocked in various farm shops, on Amazon Fresh, and at Sourced Market at Skelton Lake Services motorway services near Leeds and at St Pancras Station in London
Suzanne, who went on the Accelerate programme, said: “When people think of business support they think of funding, but the expert advice you get is invaluable. They have specialist knowledge in different areas, which would be hard to access if you don’t have the funds to pay for it.”
For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/