County Durham entrepreneurs on track for success

Entrepreneurs are set to boost their businesses by taking part in a six-month accelerator programme designed to help new County Durham companies flourish in the region and beyond.

Durham City Incubator (DCI), was set up in 2018 as a joint venture between Durham University, New College Durham and Business Durham, to support ambitious businesses based in the county who have been trading for under 12 months achieve their goals, as well as to support local entrepreneurs launch start-ups with high growth potential. Following the success of its inaugural programme, DCI is now working with eight exciting new businesses covering a wide range of sectors including e-commerce, health and safety, education and training, tourist accommodation and technology.

Each business will benefit from a £2,500 grant as well as six months of intensive support 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 six-month programme is delivered through boot camps, one-to-one support, mentoring sessions, workshops, seminars, and networking events.

The eight Durham based companies included in the new cohort are: training and mentoring enterprise for young people Heartwood Skills C.I.C, video insights platform WOTJOB, virtual racing e-commerce specialist Up Shift Store, sustainable accommodation manufacturer Unbox, IOSH health and safety training provider Mobius Training and Consultancy Limited, artisan fair trade coffee supplier Coffee Coal taxi comparison app TaxiGOAT, and INtuitIV3 Limited, which is developing an AI-based street lighting solution that helps save energy.

Sarah Slaven, operations director at Business Durham, said: “We’re delighted to be working with another cohort of innovative new businesses. We’re really looking forward to working closely with our partners to empower the entrepreneurs and see how their companies develop throughout the programme.

“It is inspiring to see the Incubator continuing to attract ambitious businesses which can help bring investment not just into the county, but as the region as a whole. With our support these new companies can make a real impact on our local economy and inspire other future business leaders.”

In addition, each of the businesses on the programme has the option to access a £7,500 loan due to DCI’s partnership with Northstar Ventures. Funding has come from the North East Innovation Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and managed by Northstar Ventures.

Dr Tim Hammond, Director of Commercialisation and Economic Development at Durham University, said: “As a partner of the Durham City Incubator, it is fantastic to see the scheme supporting the next cohort of new businesses to turn their start-up ideas into reality.

“We’ve already seen some promising start-ups being supported by the DCI, including Plastech, a company developed by our talented PhD students to process plastic waste into aggregate for concrete. “Supporting start-ups in County Durham is central to the area’s economic growth and helps us to make sure the University’s research has a positive impact on the region and further afield.”

Dawn Fairlamb, Vice Principal at New College Durham added: “We are delighted at the success of the first programme, and now excited for the start of the second accelerator programme. Durham City Incubator is fantastic venture providing support for new local businesses to help them achieve their goals; and it’s a brilliant opportunity for our students and graduates who can be part of this programme to develop ideas and set up a new business.”

The Incubator was developed as part of a wider drive to grow the Durham City economy and to offer Durham University graduates and New College Durham students high quality facilities and business support to grow their ventures in Durham City. 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. DCI runs in cohorts that each last six months. For more information on the Durham City Incubator and to apply for the next cohort, visit dcincubator.co.uk.