Liverpool business accelerator sparks double the number of entrepreneurs

A programme which helped to create over £200,000 worth of investment opportunities, 17 local jobs and some of Liverpool’s brightest entrepreneurial talent, has launched again this year with more than double the intake of entrepreneurs.

Spark Up, based at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce launched in 2014 as a pilot programme with the aim of creating 500 ‘super businesses’ in Merseyside in the next five years.

Fifteen businesses were awarded a place on Spark Up’s five month pilot programme and between them they have generated an extra £205,000 worth of investment opportunities, increased their collective turnover by around 103% and created employment opportunities for an additional 17 local people.

Now 37 new businesses will have the chance to create their own success after securing a place on this year’s programme, which started earlier this month.

Places on Spark Up were open to both would-be entrepreneurs, armed with just an idea, and owners of existing small businesses who have been trading for up to two years and are ambitious to grow.

This year’s intake includes a diverse range of businesses, from those in retail and hospitality to business support as well as those in renewable energy and social sciences.

Entrepreneurs who demonstrated an ability to grow through improving investment in the business, as well as an ambition and a strong desire to participate in the programme, were chosen to be part of this year’s group.

Founder of the programme Jenny Stewart believes that this diversity and number of entrepreneurs shows Liverpool has real potential to create and support some of the UK’s most exciting new business prospects.

She said:

“Liverpool really is leading the way in developing new businesses and encouraging an entrepreneurial mind set and you only need to look at the results of our pilot programme to see this.

“The pilot proved that there is room for this type of accelerator programme in Liverpool and that the Spark Up model works. What we saw was budding entrepreneurs working with each other and collaborating on their journey to business success.

“Now we have 37 new entrepreneurs, including a few familiar faces from last year, ready to take on the challenge and push and drive their businesses on to success.

“The calibre of entries this year was absolutely outstanding and what was really pleasing to see, was the diversity of the businesses that put themselves forward. We saw everything from digital app companies to fashion and lifestyle businesses and there were many who got us very excited here at our Spark Up headquarters.

“I am genuinely excited to see how each of our entrepreneurs develop over the next 20 weeks and wish them all the very best on their Spark Up journey.”

The Spark Up programme is modelled on the MassChallenge project in the American city of Boston. It includes free mentoring, coaching, office space and IT facilities. Additional support for the programme is provided by partners The BIG Partnership, Natwest, The University of Liverpool and Glow New Media.

This year the programme launched with a week-long ‘boot camp’ organised in partnership with the University of Liverpool, giving the entrepreneurs an introduction to key business themes and master classes.

They were also introduced to the programme’s mentors who have signed up to offer free support and advice to the Spark Up entrepreneurs. More than 30 of Liverpool’s top business leaders and entrepreneurial minds have agreed to support the programme.

Mentors have a valuable role to play in developing start-ups and Liverpool has a rich community of business leaders, as well as supporters of new business.

Paul Bibby from MSB Solicitors was one of the first of these business leaders to sign up as a Spark up mentor this year. He said:

“As soon as we heard about Spark Up we were keen to sign up and offer our support.

“As a company we have lots of experience in the business world and hope to share this with some of the entrepreneurs and help guide them on their business journey.

“We will look to offer advice on a whole range of business subjects, as well as bring in some of our strategic partners wherever possible to make sure each of them goes away with a clearer focus on what they need to do to make reach their business goals.”

More information about Spark Up can be found at

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