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East Midlands Chamber News

Spark initiative's grand final

The grand final was held last week of an initiative set up to ignite jobs growth in Harborough and encourage entrepreneurialism.

Now in its second year, Spark Harborough, run by Oxford Innovation, offered local firms free support in the form of online tools, business workshops and one-to-one business coaching throughout 2015.

Rachel Panther, of Oxford Innovation, said: "Spark is for anyone who runs, or dreams of running a business, in the Harborough District.

“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.”

Eight candidates were shortlisted for the final and received 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.

East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) was one of the sponsors of this year's Spark Harborough competition, offering a year's free Enterprise Membership as a prize for the winner of the Best New Business Idea award.

Paul Stuart, the Chamber's Head of Enterprise, was a mentor for the scheme. He was, at the time, working with Derby Coaching for Success.

The winner was Michelle Dredger, Director of L is 4 Learning, which will formally launch as a business on 1 September. It will offer primary school practitioners training and resources to help them teach modern foreign languages.

In addition to training in schools and at conference centres to build the confidence of teachers to deliver the subject, the business will also sell resources directly from its website, including lesson plans and step-by-step guidance for non-specialist practitioners.

Languages are now compulsory from the ages of 7 to 11 in primary schools

Enterprise Membership is designed to provide information, support and access to opportunities essential for new businesses.

Tom MunroTom Munro, Enterprise Membership Manager at the Chamber, said; ‘The quality of Spark finalists was fantastic. I am delighted that Michelle succeeded against such tough competition and look forward to supporting L is 4 Learning over the next 12 months. Harborough boasts a vibrant business community which benefits from world-class business support, of which the Chamber is proud to be a part."