Extended deadline for Somerset’s new business support programme

With extensive interest from around the county for Somerset’s exciting new programme for entrepreneurs and businesses, the Somerset Catalyst team have extended the applicant deadline to Friday 4 September 2020.

The extended deadline gives candidates more time to complete their online applications and a wider window for the judges to conduct more panel interviews, to meet the demand.

Peter Birkett, one of the mentors running Somerset Catalyst, says, “With space for just ten businesses on the programme and participants being accepted on an ongoing basis, we are encouraging entrepreneurs to get their applications in as soon as they can. We know the people of Somerset have a lot to bring to the innovation map of the UK and we have been impressed by the applications we have already seen. We know there is even more to be uncovered and look forward to welcoming the final applications over the next week.”

Businesses that have already been invited and accepted onto the 2020/21 programme include IN Reality Ltd, a software technology business specialising in interactive Virtual Reality (VR) training systems and immersive simulation systems, and Offcut Studio, a company that prevents textiles from becoming waste by reusing offcuts and scraps to produce high quality, well designed, desirable home goods.

IN Reality Ltd operates in the Aerospace, Oil and Gas, Nuclear and Rail sectors and the CEO, Chris Jones, is looking forward to increasing the brand’s market share in the VR training sector and has plans to grow ten-fold in the next five years under the guidance of the programme’s mentors. Chris commented: “We are really excited to be participating on the Somerset Catalyst programme. Growing a technology start-up outside of London is challenging, particularly when raising investment. The Catalyst programme will provide the necessary support and guidance to scale our Yeovil-based business.”

Russell Philip Peek, Founder of Offcut Studio, commented: “Coming from the creative industries, I am really excited about the opportunity to learn directly from experts with very different experiences to my own, with the knowledge of making young businesses succeed. Having concentrated on producing sustainable home goods and the business image, I’m keen to focus on the next stage and feel that new perspectives on what I’m doing will lead to invaluable feedback and guidance.”

Somerset Catalyst will run annually, commencing in September for a six-month duration. The bespoke programme features one-to-one expert coaching for the ten chosen businesses and will be tailored to focus on the specific elements each business needs to succeed. There will also be workshops hosted on key aspects of running a business, a peer support group, business review panels with industry experts, help to access business finance and profile-raising marketing support. The 2020 programme has been adapted to a hybrid model, using virtual technologies as well as face-to-face interaction.

Somerset County Council and four Somerset District Councils have joined forces to fund and launch an to give start-ups and early stage businesses the best chance of success. It is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county.

Yumello was a business from the pilot programme which was trialled last year. The creators of sought-after nut butters, Omar and Ester, participated in coaching sessions to fine-tune their strategy, pricing and marketing and the company is now ripe for investment. Founder Omar Elhajji reflects, “Catalyst is unlike any other programme – it’s highly interactive and challenging too. I would 100% recommend it to anyone running an early stage business.”

If you have ever thought about setting up in business or you are already running a business and are ready to accelerate your growth, Somerset Catalyst could be the boost you need to realise your ambitions. Start your business journey today by applying online at www.somersetcatalyst.co.uk/how-to-apply.