22 April 2017

Accelerators and Incubators in the Leeds City Region

Jane Lambert











The Government has recently published the first comprehensive directory of accelerators and incubators in the UK compiled by Nesta researchers (see Business Incubators and Accelerators Directory 20 April 2017 NIPC News). The Directory has identified 4 accelerators in the Leeds City Region and 5 incubators. The difference between accelerators and incubators was summarized neatly byTina Nielsen in Business accelerators: a financial shot in the arm for startups 24 Oct 2013:
"The terms business accelerator and incubator are used interchangeably and the distinction is vague, but broadly speaking accelerators offer funding and incubators mainly mentoring."
Both accelerators and incubators help to launch fledgeling businesses. Accelerators offer structured development and training with opportunities to attract funding for the most attractive businesses. Incubators are more like serviced offices with mentoring and other forms of business and technical support thrown in.

The four accelerators are all in Leeds. Each of them is part of an enterprise that also operates in other parts of the country:

Name
Website
City
Dotforge
http://dotforge.com/
Leeds
Entrepreneurial Spark
http://www.entrepreneurial-spark.com
Leeds
ODI Leeds
https://odileeds.org/
Leeds
The Young Foundation
http://www.growingsocialventures.org/en
Leeds
.
Dotforge operates in Sheffield and Manchester as well as Leeds. It measures a business's social impact as well as its commercial viability. It offers mentoring and workshops as well as investment. According to its website, it has worked with 31 startups in the three cities. Dotforge claims to be different in that it is "focused on doing good" (see the About page of its website).

The Entrepreneurial Spark claims to be "the world’s largest free business accelerator for early stage and growing ventures." It has 12 hubs around the country in all four nations of the United Kingdom with a 13th about to open in London. The Leeds operation is at 2 Park Cross Street. The Entrepreneurial Spark offers "mentors, ambassadors and supporters, workshops, pitch practice and a full time ‘entrepreneurial enabler'",

ODI Leeds opened in May 2014 shortly after Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt set up the Open Data Institute. The ODI Startup Accelerator is "a year-long, bespoke programme for data-oriented startups". It offers businesses office space at Munro House (which is close to the BBC, Dance Yorkshire, Leeds College of Music, Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse) and various mentoring and other support services for 10% of the issued share capital of the company.

The Young Foundation supports organizations currently under-served by traditional private and public sector funding routes. The Accelerator is a "competitive entry programme for social ventures that are ready to scale, incorporating four months intensive business model development followed by twelve months investment readiness support." The Leeds Accelerator operates in conjunction with the City Council and the Joseph Rowntree Trust. Details of the programme can be downloaded here.

The five incubators in the Leeds City Region are in Barnsley, Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds. All but one is connected with a university:


Name
Website
City
3M Buckley Innovation Centre
http://www.dhez.org
Huddersfield
Barnsley Business and Innovation  Centre
http://www.bbic.co.uk/
Barnsley
DHEZ
http://www.dhez.org
Bradford
Leeds Innovation Centre
http://www.leedsinnovationcentre.co.uk
Leeds
University of Bradford Business Bioscience Incubation Suite
http://www.bradford.ac.uk/research/faculties/life-sciences/areas-centres/cancer-therapeutics/bioscience-incubation/
Bradford
University of Huddersfield Enterprise Scheme
https://www.hud.ac.uk/enterprise/
Huddersfield


The University of Huddersfield operates the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield Enterprise Scheme.  The 3M Buckley Innovation Centre is named after Sir George Buckley, a graduate of Huddersfield University, who became CEO of 3MUnited Kingdom Plc. The Centre "facilitates business growth, encourages business to academia collaboration and actively promotes innovation". It caters for all businesses from startups and other small businesses to multinationals and offers "traditional and alternative funding support, national and international markets, skills partners, and access to technology, through a range of commercial, technical and support services." Facilities include hot desks, office space, flexible workshops, laboratories meeting and conference rooms. The University also provides office space, mentoring and other services to undergraduates and recent graduates who wish to set up their own busines.

The University of Bradford supports businesses in bioscience through the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics and digital health through the DHEZ (the Digital Health Enterprise Zone). The University has created a bioscience business incubation suite with offices and laboratories in its ICT building which has so far attracted three companies. Businesses and scientists outside the University are encouraged to join the incubator. The DHEZ offers business support, product design, testing and marketing services and funding.

The Leeds Innovation Centre already provides office space on the University of Leeds campus for businesses that are connected with or work closely with the University. It plans to move to new premises in September 2018 which will offer laboratory space as well as meeting rooms, a lecture theatre, caf√© and other facilities.

The Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre ("BBIC") is the only incubator in the list that is not connected with a university. It offers office accommodation and a range of business support services including a monthly pro bono IP clinic between 10:00 and 12:00 on the second Tuesday of every month from me. Those services have recently been extended to businesses outside the Centre with the BarnsleyBiz Surgeries initiative which will include regular talks by me (see Lunchtime Talk - "How can I protect my Business Idea?" Barnsley BIC 9 May 2017 12-15-13-15 21 April 2017).

Should anyone wish to discuss this article or startup support in general, they should not hesitate to call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form, Readers may also be interested in my accelerators and incubators resources page on my Inventors Club blog.