UCLan celebrates mentoring initiative

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is celebrating the success of a business mentoring support programme that has helped more than 165 established and new North West businesses over the last three years.

UCLan MoreThe free MORE Programme, which provided a combination of advice, guidance, business support and access to facilities to help the growth of creative, digital and media sector companies in the North West of England, helped a mixture of businesses that have been set up over the last five years and pre-start businesses that are looking to establish themselves within the next three years.

All of the businesses received a minimum of 12 hours support from the MORE Programme team, with many receiving considerably more. Out of the businesses that had already began trading, 81% reported an improvement whilst working with the project with more results still expected. In total, the businesses and pre-starts received more than 4850 hours of support over the three years.

Manufacturer Irma Gilbert was one of the programme’s participants. She said: “Before the MORE Programme I was working as freelancer from home and my website was very basic. From joining I had access to a better place to work at UCLan’s Media Factory and with help from my mentor Andrew, I built a new sleek website that was very professional.

“My business managed to reach new customers around the world including India, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique and Brazil the result was a real increase in turnover from £6,000 to £ 90,000 last year.”

Joanne Victoria Hill also took part to boost her BitchinTs business; a digital graphic and illustration manufacturer of canine, feline and equine themed apparel for both people and their pets.

She said: “I’m grateful for all the incredible support I've received via the mentoring programme. It's been educational, enlightening and inspiring. I want to thank the organisation for giving me access to such a comprehensively empowering resource.

“Without UCLan’s guidance and insight I wouldn't have the courage of my convictions to pursue my business idea.”

All of the participants were supported by experienced business mentors including North West businesswoman Naomi Timperley, who earlier this year was honoured in the Maserati100 which acknowledges those who actively support young entrepreneurs.

The project was part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and was open to companies working business-to-business in the creative and digital sector and are less than five years old.

Peter Rawling, UCLan’s business incubation manager, commented: “The achievements of the MORE Programme are reflected in the figures and perhaps more importantly, in seeing the businesses go from strength to strength and the positive feedback we’ve received from many of the participants. “UCLan has a strong history of nurturing new business and recently retained its status as the top University in the North West for graduate start-up businesses and second nationally for the number that are still active after three years according to the latest Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey.”