Start-up support

The north west’s £35m Business Start Up programme has been given the green light after a visit from business secretary Lord Mandelson at the region’s Lowry Arts Centre.

The programme aims to increase regional economic output by supporting 12,700 new businesses and creating 22,900 jobs in the north west. This is expected to increase business survival rates amidst the economic downturn.

Funding will include £26.6m from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and £8.4m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) over the next five years.

Welcoming the initiative, Mandelson said: ‘We need to train, nurture and support the Richard Arkwrights of the future. It won’t be cotton, but it will be bioscience, or green tech, or precision engineering or creative industries. Industrial activism has to be built on precise regional knowledge of what is needed in terms of infrastructure, investment and training.’

The Business Start Up programme will be accessed through Business Link Northwest, the region’s business support gateway, with advisers on hand to provide support, advice and training to entrepreneurs and young businesses.

Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, said: ‘The Business Start Up programme aims to encourage and support people with a business idea to gain the necessary expertise to put that idea into practice.

‘We are fully aware that it is a tough business climate at the moment, but we have a robust and diverse economy and it is important that in 2009 we are developing a business culture of realistic optimism.’

The programme follows on from the Northwest Business Start Up provision, which is due to finish at the end of March this year. According to the NWDA, the current programme has helped around 3,000 entrepreneurs to launch businesses in the region.