’Pool of entrepreneurs will transform city

December 03

Liverpool City region needs another 20,000 businesses. It needs to create more jobs. It needs to retain talent. Liverpool needs, Liverpool needs, Liverpool needs… We’re good at talking the talk, but can we walk the walk?

It's no secret the city must attract more inward investment to promote growth, we all know the sound bites. But what are we actually doing about it and could it be the answer is right on our doorstep?

With the help of Natwest, Big Partnership and the University of Liverpool, Liverpool and Sefton Chamber developed a pilot business accelerator programme launched in March 2014. Spark Up was the North West’s first zero-equity private sector programme designed to support our start-ups and drive them onto bigger and better things.

More than 100 businesses applied for the fifteen available slots. The successful applicants were unique in their own way. They operated in different sectors, had a different product or service and were at different stages in their business cycle, but the one thing they all shared was a passion and a determination to make their idea a success.

Spark Up comprised a five-month boot camp providing access to advice and support through master classes and practical workshops, as well as one-on-one mentoring with some of the city’s leading business names, who kindly volunteered their time to help.

Every business has grown and flourished on the Spark Up programme. The resulting impact report shows the programme has helped create £250,000 worth of investment opportunities, businesses have increased their collective turnover by around 103% and created employment opportunities for an additional 17 people – all of whom have been sourced locally.

Feedback also shows that Spark Up provided a positive contribution to the improvement of business skills, with an overall satisfaction rating 77% for business outcomes. On top of this 66% of businesses believed their involvement with Spark Up helped increase their customer base and 75% believed it helped to identify and improve their routes to market.

The figures certainly speak for themselves, but for me the results which speak the loudest are those which can’t be measured in numbers. It is the personal changes that Spark Up has inspired in each and every person who took part, which stand out the most.

Over the past five months I have watched fifteen entrepreneurs grow as individuals and, with that, grow their businesses. Their commercial acumen has increased tenfold, and with it their tenacity, drive and confidence in creating a sustainable, successful business.

But the Spark Up pilot was merely a drop in the Mersey. Next year the programme will return bigger, brighter and bolder than before. The Chamber’s Spark Up initiative has demonstrated there is talent in Liverpool and we have the means to generate growth from within, but it needs everyone to pull together and collaborate.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm bored with all the talk. It's time we did something. It’s time Liverpool pulled together and delivered. It's time the North West upstart stopped playing by the rules and Sparked Up its own start-ups.




@SparkUpNow

RT @bangthedrumES: @SparkUpNow would this benefit any current Sparkies? t.co/5SXg4HjARn
@SparkUpNow

RT @LpoolChamber: Celebrate a night to remember. Tickets for our Annual Dinner 2016 are now on sale. t.co/vX8HL04Dhl #ThinkCreateDo…
@SparkUpNow

RT @LpoolChamber: Celebrate your business success by entering for our Strive Award as part of our Annual Dinner Awards: t.co/80Mj4k…
@SparkUpNow

RT @LpoolChamber: Do you know a young person who has made an extraordinary contribution to the success of your organisation? t.co/5…
@SparkUpNow

RT @LpoolChamber: Have you reached for new markets this year? We want you to nominate your business for our Reach Award: t.co/JvQzL…
@SparkUpNow

RT @LauraBerry86: The epitome of style well done @TheMensFinest - great to see one of our entrepreneurs smashing it @SparkUpNow t.c…
@SparkUpNow

RT @ClearlinkHR: Well @SparkUpNow at one stage I thought I may never get here... have only advertised TWO BRAND NEW JOBS today! t.c…
@SparkUpNow

RT @laad_autism: At the @AnnaKennedy1 #AKOAutismHero awards, none of this would have been possible without the fantastic @JennyStewart & al…
@SparkUpNow

RT @laad_autism: At the @AnnaKennedy1 #AKOAutismHero awards, none of this would have been possible without the fantastic @JennyStewart & al…
@SparkUpNow