Durham University and partners launch growth incubator for county-based startups

A new growth incubator for startups has launched in County Durham.

Located at Salvus House in Aykley Heads, Durham City Incubator will be open to county-based businesses that have traded for less than a year. It will offer six months of support to prepare participants for the next stage of growth, with training and advice covering topics ranging from finance and marketing to legal issues and business strategy.

The incubator represents a collaboration between Durham University, New College Durham and economic development organisation Business Durham, which works on behalf of the county council. Entrepreneurs on the programme will have the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded business owners and connect with potential investors. Participants will also receive a startup grant of £2,500 and have access to workspace at a discounted rate.

Business Durham operations director Sarah Slaven 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.”

She added: “It’s about retaining academic talent in the region and giving people the skills they need to have a business with longevity.”

The incubator was developed as part of a drive to grow Durham’s economy and offer facilities and business support to both Durham University graduates and New College Durham students.

Durham University’s director of commercialisation and economic development, Dr Tim Hammond, commented: “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.”

New College Durham vice principal Dawn Fairlamb said of the launch: “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.”

Successful applicants will be invited to attend a pitching event, with the first due to be held in the coming weeks.