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East Midlands Chamber News

Spark ignites jobs creation in Harborough

An initiative called Spark is set to ignite jobs growth in Harborough District.

Now in its second year, Spark Harborough District will offer local businesses free support in the form of online tools, business workshops and one-to-one business coaching throughout 2015.

Oxford Innovation operates the initiative from the Harborough Innovation Centre, on behalf of Harborough District Council. It aims to generate jobs, encourage entrepreneurialism and boost the local economy.

“We launched on 6th December coinciding with ‘Small Business Saturday’. The day aims to support, inspire and promote small businesses. We thought that this was a significant day to re-launch the regional Spark initiative with our fresh new look and our updated website,” said Rachel Panther of Oxford Innovation, who manages Spark on behalf of Harborough District Council.

“Spark is for anyone who runs, or dreams of running a business, in the Harborough District,” explained Rachel. “It is about sparking entrepreneurialism and business growth by bringing people with ideas, plans and ambition together with those who want to offer up their experience, resources and expertise to help them get going. Deciding to start a business or grow a business is a big decision. Spark aims to provide a platform from which to test the commercial viability before taking the plunge.”

Spark Harborough District culminates at the end of March 2015 with the launch of a high-profile business idea competition, offering an anticipated prize fund expected to exceed £25,000.

There are two competition categories: Best New Business Idea and Best Growth Idea.

The eight shortlisted entries will receive support in the form of strategic coaching to help them develop a robust plan for business growth and assistance to build this into a financial model.

Training on how to pitch the idea is also offered, which is particular useful if securing investment is critical to the plan.

The two winners will be chosen at a Dragons’ Den-style judging event in July and will receive ongoing business coaching, as well as a share in the final prize fund.

The six judges are confirmed as Neil Pickford, Editor of Harborough Mail, Mark Carrington of King Vehicle Engineering, Mark Robinson of Market Harborough Building Society, Libby Langley of Zest Communications, Tim Sparrow of BBB Investments and Blake Pain, leader of Harborough District Council.

The competition prize fund is worth more than £13k with Harborough District Council, East Midlands Chamber, MAY Marketing, Grange Accounting and Market Harborough Building Society already signed up to offer their support to the business community.

Blake Pain, Leader of Harborough District Council said “The return of Spark Harborough will be a great asset to the local business community and economy. Harborough District Council is dedicated to providing opportunities for our businesses to grow and for jobs to be created. This initiative aims to enable local people to turn raw potential into refined, successful business growth.”

For more information visit www.sparkharborough.com.