Entrepreneurs, universities, and LLEP join forces to nurture start-up and co-working in Leicester

Image credit: University of Leicester

Organisations and entrepreneurial communities across Leicester are collaborating to enhance start up support to people wanting to set up new ventures. A new co-working venture is planned along with a range of start-up activities including Leicester’s first ever Start-up Week, from 26th November 2018.

With financial backing from the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) and the University of Leicester, De Montfort University, Leicester City Council’s LCB Depot and local entrepreneurial group Leicester Startups are aiming to strengthen and enhance Leicester’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Part funded by £100,000 of pooled business rates project revenue fund from the LLEP and with equivalent support from the partner organisations, this collaborative initiative aims to nurture early stage businesses and social innovations through targeted events and activities to further develop the reach and impact of the city’s already thriving networks.

Activities kick off week commencing 26th November with Leicester Start-up Week, a series of events to bring together entrepreneurs from across the city. The Start-up Week will include networking, mentoring and social events and will climax with an intensive Start-up Weekend (1-2 December) where attendees will pitch, build and test an idea in a single weekend.

Leicester consistently ranks highly as one of the best places in the UK to start a business, boasting higher than average business survival rates, excellent geographical connectivity, access to talent and low cost of living (Barclays’ SME Growth Factors Index and ATT place Leicester 2nd and 3rd nationally).

A recent Tech Nation 2018 report identified Leicester as having the biggest increase in new digital technology firms in the last decade, and Start-up Britain placed Leicester 2nd in the UK for start-up growth.

The partners have joined forces to harness and build on the city’s strengths and enhance its enormous potential further by supporting greater numbers of brand new start-ups, to secure Leicester’s place as first choice for entrepreneurs setting up in the UK.

Rajinder Bhuhi, Leicester Innovation Hub Manager from the University of Leicester: “We are pleased to be working with entrepreneurs and organisations across the city to drive a step change in the support offered for early stage businessesin the fields of tech, creative and social innovation.

“A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem benefits everyone living, working and studying here by providing more opportunities, wealth and jobs. Our shared vision is to see Leicester reach its full potential as a globally significant entrepreneurial city.”

Simon Baines, De Montfort University Innovation Centre Manager: “We are very excited to be working collaboratively with partners across the city to raise the profile of start-up and SME support in Leicester.

“These new, joint activities are timely, with recent national reports naming Leicester as the number one city for starting a business and the third best for entrepreneurship. By working together we can only build on this further and in doing so, help establish Leicester as an even more attractive place for our talented graduates to stay and develop their ventures.”

James Burkmar, LCB Depot Workspace Manager: “From pretty much a lifetime working in the creative sector it’s abundantly clear to me that great co-working space is a necessity for any modern city.

“This is where we can meet new people, test ideas, think differently and develop the right attitudes and behaviours necessary to take those ideas into marketable concepts. Not everyone sees themselves as an entrepreneur. With an open heart and receptive mind co-working is one way to discover that you can be.”

Entrepreneur Ben Ravilious, Leicester Startups: “Leicester already boasts talented entrepreneurs and strong pockets of entrepreneurial activity, but by working together we can expand the reach of existing networks, find interesting new ways to inspire entrepreneurs and make it easier for new start-ups to understand where they can go for the best help. Emphasis will be on grassroots action driven by entrepreneurs and supported by the public sector and wider business community.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the LLEP: “This is a very exciting development as Leicester lacks a genuinely open, accessible and affordable space where business start-ups and existing businesses can pay for the space they use by the hour or day.

“The Start-up Leicester programme will address this ‘gap’ and enable cross-sectoral/cross-interest collaborations between students/graduates, members of the local community and freelancers with existing businesses. The potential to develop new ideas that tackle social, economic and environmental issues in Leicester while linking areas of expertise within business and academic research will be fantastic.”

This new initiative will help Leicester to recognise and respond to global trends, for example the demand for more flexibility in the way we work, the pervasion of technology throughout workplaces and increasing numbers of people choosing to start a business rather than work for an employer.

It forms a part of the LLEP’s work to develop an Industrial Strategy aimed at creating a local economy which boosts productivity and earning power.

It also complements recent action by the University of Leicester to inspire entrepreneurs in the field of space technologies and establishment of the Leicester Innovation Hub, an extensive programme of support made available for creative businesses through the LCB Depot, and significant work undertaken by DMU’s Innovation Centre to support early stage businesses with flexible workspace and co-working events.

Leicester Start-up Week coincides with Government’s #SmallBizSatUK campaign from 1 December 2018, which shines a light on the support available for small business from funding to guidance and advice.