Free office space for bright ideas

Prize: Office space is being offered at the Coppull Enterprise Centre
Prize: Office space is being offered at the Coppull Enterprise Centre
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A competition has been launched to find Lancashire’s best new business idea as part of a drive to support fledgling firms.

Boost Business Lancashire, the county’s part EU-funded £7.2m growth hub, has joined forces with Winning Pitch and provider of flexible business accommodation, Bizspace, to launch the Flying Start competition.

It offers the county’s most promising start-up business six months’ free office space and a free laptop computer.

It is hoped the competition will encourage more “pre-start” businesses to access free business support available through Boost’s Lancashire LEAP programme.

Entrants will take part in Lancashire LEAP, delivered by Winning Pitch and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, which is a comprehensive business support package designed to help start-ups establish themselves.

It consists of four one-day bootcamps, plus coaching and mentoring to help the businesses develop their final business plan.

Tim Smith, senior consultant at Winning Pitch, said: “There are many people out there with great ideas, but it can be difficult to turn these into a viable business without the right support.

“Flying Start has been designed to encourage more people to seek out that free support, with the chance for three businesses to get extra help in the shape of free office space if their business plans are judged the best.”

Boost Business Lancashire is the £7.2m Lancashire Business Growth Hub, led by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

The aim of Boost is to grow the county’s economy by £20m and create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

Boost also helps businesses access specialist private sector business support, as well as other nationally funded programmes, where relevant.

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at the county council, said: “Lancashire LEAP is helping start-ups across the county to realise their potential, creating growth and jobs.

“This competition will hopefully make more businesses aware of the excellent array of free support on offer in Lancashire.”

Bizspace will be offering the prize of free office space at one of the firm’s business centres in Chorley, Nelson or Blackburn.

To be eligible for entry in the competition entrants agree that: Their new business will be based in Lancashire; it will trade with other businesses; and their new business will be able to turnover at least £250,000 in three years time and/or employ five people.