St.Peter’s Innovation Centre in Derby has introduced a wider range of flexible support options for local entrepreneurs following the completion of a pilot programme.
The Centre was opened at St. Peter’s in the City church earlier this year – offering desk space, meeting facilities and mentoring support for start up businesses and social enterprises.
Now, instead of businesses having to commit to office space full time – they are able to rent a desk for as little as a day a week whilst still benefiting from additional facilities, training and networking events and one to one mentoring support from local businesses.
Canon Reverend Paul Morris from St. Peter’s In the City explained: “The Innovation Centre is unique in the city and indeed the region as it offers start-up businesses and social ventures quality facilities at low cost as well as mentoring support to help them flourish.
“This is therefore designed to be very much the first rung on the ladder – enabling people to develop their God-given potential within a supportive community.
“Many of the businesses who are based here are people who originally set up working from home which can be very isolating. The combination of office space and mentoring therefore supports them to become economically independent and encourages them to develop as innovative entrepreneurs.
“The Innovation Centre is a natural progression to our extensive work in the city and we are particularly interested in supporting new businesses and social enterprises that contribute to the needs of the wider community.
“We are committed to working in partnership with other businesses and service providers – particularly through our involvement with St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) – to develop networks and to maximise the potential of people and projects.
“And we are focused on supporting growing businesses who have a strong sense of social conscience and desire to contribute to the needs of the wider community – a focus on shared value, not just on profit.”
Innovation Centre Development Manager Elaine Nanson continued: “Since launching as a pilot project earlier this year, we have learnt that such entrepreneurs need greater flexibility rather than being tied down to office accommodation five days a week.
“We have therefore introduced a much wider package to ensure that we can tailor our service to suit each individual licence holder and support them in their aspirations to move into larger office accommodation elsewhere in the city, expand and create more local jobs.”
Among the business people based at the Innovation Centre is Lisa Barker who has set up Support & Tuition At Home – offering computer training to people in their own homes.
Lisa (37), a former ICT tutor at Derby College, explained that many of her clients were older people and carers who needed one to one support to be able to access services and networks online.
“People increasingly need to be online whether that is to keep in touch with friends through social media or to renew their car tax discs.
“Rather than working to a computer course, many people need personal tuition to help them gain the confidence to work on the computer.
“When I set up the business, I was based at home but it can be very lonely difficult juggling the demands of home and family with running a business.
“I now come here every Monday which has given me the structure and discipline to really focus on the business and to meet with my mentor Elaine who is a great help and support to me.
“This has given me the confidence to commit to growing the business as well as the facilities to offer group training and offer tuition away from people’s the homes if they wish which was something I couldn’t do before.
“I am also looking forward to attending the training and networking events that the team here are planning to help me get to grips with all the accounting and other technical aspects of running a business.
“Coming here has been a lifeline for my business and I never thought I would be able to afford a city centre office at such an early stage of my business.”
The project was welcomed by Stephen Jeffery, Board chair of St Peters Quarter Business Improvement District which is the area between the Cathedral Quarter and Intu shopping centre.
He said: “The Business Innovation Centre is a valuable addition to St Peters Quarter.
“It brings people into the St Peters Quarter to work which has a positive effect on local businesses – from professional firms to shops, cafes and restaurants.
“As the businesses here grow, they will hopefully expand into surrounding empty properties and contribute greatly to the regeneration of this part of the city centre.
“And it creates further networking opportunities between businesses for mutual benefit.”
Author: Sarah Jenkin-Jones, JJPR