Accelerator to deliver new programme to develop tech entrepreneurs

A new programme designed to support tech entrepreneurs to accelerate their business growth is coming to South Yorkshire.

Transform SY will form part of the ambitious TEAM SY project – a joint initiative between Capital Enterprise, a non-profit organisation striving to make the UK the best place to start a business, and Barnsley Council.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through TEAM SY, with match funding provided by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and UKSE, TEAM SY will accelerate the development and market-making of a regional tech ecosystem.

It will run throughout 2022 and aims to support 60 businesses and will be delivered by Entrepreneurial Spark, one of the first accelerators established in the United Kingdom back in 2012.

This will be Entrepreneurial Spark’s 22nd accelerator, and its first opportunity for entrepreneurs in South Yorkshire.

Transform SY will open for applications on 8 November and recruit a first cohort of 20 entrepreneurs. The aim is to build a cohort of start-ups that represents South Yorkshire as a whole.

Participants will be immersed in an intensive six-month experience, using techniques honed from deep interaction with entrepreneurs globally.

The accelerator is free of charge and no equity will be taken, to remove any financial barriers to participation.

The programme aims to offer the opportunity for more people from all walks of life to become entrepreneurs, and to reduce the gaps between start-ups and funding bodies.

Mike Stephens, CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark, said: “South Yorkshire has been my home for many years, so I am delighted to be able to bring Entrepreneurial Spark to the region.

“Having worked with SMEs here for over 10 years I have met some fantastic entrepreneurs, and this is a great opportunity to unearth more of them from communities throughout South Yorkshire.

“Entrepreneurs have a massive role to play in generating an inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic and mobilising them here has the potential to deliver this across the whole region.”

Darren Balcombe, deputy CEO of Capital Enterprise, said: “We are very excited to see Transform SY be announced.  We want to see South Yorkshire’s start-up founders gain access to a programme that develops entrepreneurial leadership, whilst developing businesses and a lasting community.

“As a region we are behind others in our start-up rates and TEAM SY is responding to this by introducing fantastic accelerator programmes like Transform SY to create a strong, sustainable, and competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Steve Lyon, regional executive for UKSE, said: “This is an exciting initiative that will further cement South Yorkshire as the place to be for tech enabled businesses spanning a whole range of sectors.

“The accelerator will provide participants with invaluable access to support and advice from a wealth of experts in their individual fields, helping to fuel sustainable growth and create further job opportunities in the region.”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of South Yorkshire, added: “We are delighted to be partners of Transform South Yorkshire.

“This programme of support is an exciting opportunity for local founders to play their part too in our region’s recovery.

“This specific scheme will not only act as an accelerator for local entrepreneurs but puts inclusivity and sustainability at the heart of a broader programme of our local eco-business system.”

If a business is registered or economically active in South Yorkshire, has been founded less than three years ago and is using technology in some way, it is eligible to apply for Transform SY.

Preference will be given to founders who are working on their business full-time and are post-proof of concept stage.

Applications will open on 8 November until 17 December and the programme will start on 10 January 2022.