An initiative launched today aims to create a new breed of entrepreneurs in Cumbria.
Fusion Go is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to change the way individuals establish and grow a business through a six-month accelerator programme.
Director and founder David Jones said: “Fusion Go is a new concept for Cumbria.
“We specialise in the individual giving entrepreneurs the right tools, mindset and skills to develop their business or take their business idea to the next level.
“We are a people-focused organisation. After all, it is people who make a business successful.”
Today’s launch, at the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth, gives aspiring entrepreneurs details of the programme.
It is open to owners of businesses that have been trading for up to three years, including those yet to launch.
They apply online explaining their idea, what successes they have had and how they see their business growing.
Then they present to a panel of specialists who assess their suitability for the programme, which costs £350.
Participants have access to mentoring, a peer-to-peer network, masterclasses, finance and investment, and legal, intellectual property and other advice.
Applications close this summer and the programme starts in September, operating from locations in north, west and south Cumbria.
The county continues to lag behind when it comes to entrepreneurial activity.
Figures compiled by the data software company informdirect.co.uk show Cumbria had 4.7 company start ups per 1,000 people in 2014, half the national average.
The launch is sponsored by the nuclear services company Amec Foster Wheeler.
Speakers include Mark Fryer of Britain’s Energy Coast and Allerdale Council, Phil Jones, managing director of Brother UK, Pete Woolaghan, director of several successful businesses, and Jim Duffy, chief executive of Entrepreneurial Spark, a partner in Fusion Go.
Mr Jones said: “Small business can be nimble and innovative and that’s invaluable.
“The Fusion Go pro-team mentor network will be a great way of enabling that interaction and learning.”
Fusion Go has the backing of business people who will be part of its team of mentors.
They include Kurt Canfield of Safety Critical, who is a director of Fusion Go, Pete Woolaghan of React Engineering, law firm Burnetts, accountant Dodd & Co, Natwest Bank, Innovus, the University of Cumbria, and Maria Whitehead MBE of Hawkshead Relish.
She said: “Hawkshead Relish would have found this level of support invaluable when getting off the ground and I believe we would have got to where we are today a lot quicker if Fusion Go had been around a few years ago.”
Alison Johnston, partner at Dodd & Co, added: “We believe making businesses investment-ready is crucial to their growth.
“We will offer our financial expertise to help Fusion Go businesses ready for investment and growth.”
To get involved in Fusion Go either as an investor, supporter, mentor or participant, log onto www.fusiongo.co.uk.
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