Boost gains support from county’s top entrepreneurs

Some of Lancashire’s best known entrepreneurs have thrown their weight behind the county’s largest ever business support programme aimed at growth-hungry businesses.

Boost Business Lancashire, the new £7.2m Lancashire Business Growth Hub, has been endorsed by Helen Colley, Michael Finnigan, Luke Massie, Michael Taylor, Mike Murray, Richard Greathead and Shaun Bennett, who have all become ambassadors for Boost.

Boost, which has been developed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Lancashire County Council, aims to grow the county’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council’s economic development service, said: “Any entrepreneur or high-growth business owner needs inspiration from people who have been there and done it themselves. The aim of our ambassador programme is to find entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds who can share their experiences of growing businesses and offer advice. We are looking to sign up further ambassadors from right across the region as the programme progresses.”

Helen Colley is the founder and former managing director of Clitheroe-based Farmhouse Fare, the luxury puddings business she started from her parent’s kitchen table in the 1990s and sold to Daniels Foods for £10m in 2007. Helen is now a business coach and mentor through her consultancy business The Perfect Mix.

Entrepreneur Mike Murray was the founder and chief executive of Blackburn-based bridal and formalwear business Brackenbridge plc during the 1980s, growing it into a multi-million pound business and floating it on the stock exchange. At its height, Mike was responsible for three manufacturing sites, 60 retail outlets and 500 employees. Mike has been a long-term advocate of business growth in Lancashire through a number of non-executive, business consulting and mentoring roles.

Luke Massie, 20, from Preston, has been named among the country’s top 100 young entrepreneurs having built up and sold his first business by the age of 18. Luke currently runs four businesses, employing 14 full-time and six part-time staff. He is also the founder of The1to500 Club, an online student marketing business that has successfully piloted in Preston. Luke is currently looking to roll out the platform, now rebranded as Studenthood, to university cities across the UK.

Michael Finnigan is CEO of i2i (Impossible to Inevitable), a Preston-based company that enables organisations and individuals across the globe to hit their objectives by understanding the psychological strategies that lead to success. Michael has been working in this field since 1992 and i2i’s clients include some of the world's most famous businesses, including Royal Mail, Rolls Royce, Emirates and Travel Counsellors. Michael also works extensively within elite sport and his work is credited with helping Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup in 2013 and golfer Darren Clarke to win the Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2011.

Richard Greathead is a director of Blackpool-based Nutrition Group plc, the fast-growing international food supplement and health product manufacturer. Richard has overseen a number of acquisitions by the company and in 2013 led a merger of three companies into the Nutrition Group to coincide with a major multi-million pound expansion of the company’s production facilities in Blackpool. The company raised turnover to £10m last year.

Shaun Bennett is the owner of Blackpool-based Links Signs and Graphics, a fast growing family firm that specialises in printed signage, banners, posters and exhibition materials. The company, founded in 2007, counts the Football Pools, Merlin Entertainments, Blackpool Zoo and Winter Gardens among its illustrious clients. It has recently benefited from the Growth Accelerator programme which assists high-growth businesses and is being delivered by Boost Business Lancashire.

Michael Taylor, originally from Lancaster, is the former editor of North West Business Insider magazine and founder of Think More, a company specialising in creating thought-provoking events across the UK. As an experienced events host, broadcaster and business journalist, Michael has presented at events and conferences all over the UK and Europe and is a frequent commentator on business issues on the BBC. He is also a non-executive director of Liberty Pensions, an honorary fellow at UCLan, and a member of the University of Manchester Alumni Advisory Board. Michael is the chairman of business lobbying group Downtown Manchester in Business.

Boost Business Lancashire is being delivered through a partnership between Lancashire County Council, Community & Business Partners, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Winning Pitch. £3.6m of funding has been provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Boost offers a range of services, some 100% funded, some part-funded, including: • Growth Mentoring by Community & Business Partners; providing high growth mentoring support through successful business leaders who have already worked through similar challenges. • Lancashire Forum; an exclusive leadership peer-to-peer networking and development programme run by Lancaster University. • Lancashire LEAP; led by Winning Pitch and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, providing advice to pre-start and early start businesses. • UCLan’s Innovation Clinic; aimed at supporting advanced manufacturing and engineering companies develop new products and move into new markets. • Winning Pitch’s GrowthAccelerator; an expanded version of the national GrowthAccelerator programme.

In addition, Boost will offer support through a pre-selected group of private sector advisory firms that specialise in helping growing businesses. Businesses looking to sign up to the programme can do so through the website www.boostbusinesslancashire.co.uk or call 0800 488 0057.