Scheme to attract city entrepreneurs

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Pictured: Nick Owen, programme director and Jenny Stewart, founder of Spark Up

Pictured: Nick Owen, programme director and Jenny Stewart, founder of Spark Up

The Spark Up programme is underway in a drive to create 500 ‘super businesses’ in Merseyside over the next five years.

The five-month pilot of the programme starts today, with 15 ‘Bright Sparks’ already confirmed and more due to join in the coming weeks.

The programme is being run out of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce giving the Bright Sparks access to mentors who specialise in a range of business skills, including accounting, HR, legal and marketing as well as office space and IT facilities – all completely free of charge.

Jenny Stewart, chief executive of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and founder of Spark Up, told JMU Journalism: “Liverpool is renowned for its tenacity and go-getter attitude. The city is brimming with aspiring, creative entrepreneurial businesses and Spark Up aims to provide a dynamic, focused structure to drive these start-ups on to bigger and better things.

“I’m a firm believer that while talent will start it off, attitude will finish it – that ethos will permeate the five-month programme.”

To launch the pilot, the Chamber has teamed up with Natwest bank, as well as the University of Liverpool, The BIG Partnership, Glow New Media and Aspire Creative Enterprises.

The pilot programme will put those involved through a boot camp-style programme of master classes and will conclude during Liverpool’s International Festival for Business in the summer.

Ms Stewart added: “The master classes and practical workshops will be thought-provoking and challenge the businesses to tread outside of their comfort zones.

“The programme is about creating a community of energetic, ambitious entrepreneurs who will challenge, support, drive and ultimately spark-off one another in an incredibly positive, inspirational environment. It’s hugely exciting.”

One of the ‘Bright Sparks’ involved in the pilot is Gemma Dolan of ConverseByGem. She told JMU Journalism: “I’m really looking forward to being a part of Spark Up and having my workshop at the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

Gemma’s dream is to have an interactive store where customers can come and design their own bespoke item of footwear or clothing in a Pick ‘n’ Mix type setting.

She added: “I love to meet new people and learn new skills and I know it’s going to be great for both of those things. It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m honoured to have been offered a place.”


About Lauren Cordelle, JMU Journalism