Business accelerator programme provides boost for the region’s start-ups

Published Thursday, 23rd February 2017
Research Retold founder Mihaela Gruia
Research Retold founder Mihaela Gruia

Ten teams of entrepreneurs from the Sheffield City Region took part in a 12 week business accelerator programme resulting in four enterprises being offered investment to help drive their development.

The pilot programme, led by Rotherham Council’s regeneration arm RiDO in conjunction with other public and private sector organisations, aimed to help transform ideas into sustainable, growing businesses.

The UKSE Y-Accelerator initiative is a unique collaboration between RiDO, Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE), Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sheffield and a number of private firms.

The ten teams were selected from a competitive field of applications from across the region and received an intensive programme of mentoring and business development support over a 12 week period.

The programme culminated in an investor pitch event at Sheffield Hallam University where Sheffield-based Research Retold scooped the £25k investment prize after beating off stiff competition in front of a judging panel made up of representatives from UK Steel Enterprise and the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

Keith Williams, Regional Manager of UK Steel Enterprise, which invests in growing companies locally, said the quality of the entries to the competition – the first of its kind – was ‘very impressive’; with several of the businesses in question having already secured support from growing numbers of customers. 

He said: “The Y-Accelerator is a unique initiative that brings together various forms of support to create an intensive incubator for entrepreneurs with start-up ideas.

 “The process was designed to help validate ideas, develop strong business models and provide people with the tools and skills to launch new businesses, and Research Retold really demonstrated existing capacity for growth and expansion.

“The eight businesses who made it to the final pitch event have been through a challenging programme forcing them to demonstrate the viability of their products time and time again.

“The presentations were excellent and we were only too pleased to announce that we have made an additional £30k of investment available – with £10k each offered to Reach Homes, Brailler and BearHugs Gifts. The quality of the final pitches reflects very well on all those who supported the entrepreneurs and in particular I’d like to thank staff at RiDO who led the programme.”

Cllr Denise Lelliott, Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy said: “It’s great to see so many new businesses getting off to a promising start thanks to this initiative.

“I’m very proud that colleagues at Rotherham Investment and Development Office – RiDO – have been involved in this innovative scheme.”

Research Retold founder Mihaela Gruia added: “I found the Y-Accelerator to be an extremely useful experience because it gave me the focus and dedicated space and time to work on developing the business. 

“I found it particularly helpful to have the RIDO team - Richard Keates, Julia Millea and Amanda Parris - available for brainstorming, critique and encouragement.”

Read more about the award winnersimage

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