The city of Wolverhampton Council has launched a new business and enterprise hub to inspire start-ups, growth and support people into employment and training.
IGNITE (Innovate, Grow, Navigate, Ideas, Technology, Entrepreneurship) is located on the ground floor units 3 and 4 of the Council’s i10 office and retail complex at the heart of the city centre’s £150million award-winning transport Interchange.
The Council has funded the new hub, which will be run in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce to join up the business support infrastructure in the city.
It provides free co-working and meeting space, events, training - virtual and physical - and support to inspire start-ups and business growth.
City residents can visit the hub to get advice and guidance on training and employment opportunities and utilise the free workspace. IGNITE also supports the Council’s £3 million Wolves at Work 18-24 programme to tackle youth unemployment in Wolverhampton.
Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “I am delighted to have opened IGNITE which will help the wealth of creative and innovative talent we have in the city flourish.
“Around 97 per cent of businesses in the city employ less than 50 people and the need for more joined-up business support for SMEs is critical – and with funding cuts to other provisions in the city, we know this will be well-used by budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and those that require some support to establish and grow their business or to develop their ideas.
“IGNITE provides a space to work with like-minded individuals and to access support.
“The aim is that it will deliver more business registrations, prevent start-ups from failing, and create and safeguard jobs in the city.
“We also want to engage with local training providers and develop a mentoring programme and I’d appeal to potential business mentors to get in touch with us if you think you can offer support to fledgling businesses.”
Olivia Simpson, an entrepreneur from the University of Wolverhampton and Wellbeing Check Practitioner, added: “I believe IGNITE is an invaluable asset to the city of Wolverhampton.
“It will allow start-ups to meet clients in a professional working space without the need to pay high fees for an office, which most start-ups simply cannot afford.
“As an entrepreneur, you are the finance team, marketing team, CEO, CTO, and admin team. These fields go outside the area of your expertise and thus educational workshops are extremely valuable. General guidance and support is critical as entrepreneurship can be a lonely place. Additionally, running a start-up can involve high costs so help with finding and applying for grants is needed.
“IGNITE provides entrepreneurs with the support and guidance they need – it is going to enable start-ups in Wolverhampton to thrive.”
Black Country Chamber of Commerce Director of Business Services, Karen Webb, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Council and the University to bring IGNITE to Wolverhampton.
“The city is increasingly a focus for business investment and innovation and IGNITE will provide a hub for budding entrepreneurs and those working in business to come together for events, training and a place to share ideas and collaborate.
“We’re looking forward to playing our part to ensure that IGNITE becomes an integral part of the city’s thriving business community.”
Tim Steele, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Global Opportunities and Regional Engagement at the University of Wolverhampton said: “The University of Wolverhampton is thrilled to be a partner in this important initiative and in doing so to play our role in helping support, develop and upskill our local business base in this key growth sector.
“We are proud to be part of this new venture and look forward to the opportunities IGNITE will bring to the people of Wolverhampton.”
IGNITE is placing an emphasis on improving digital skills and, based on demand, has the potential to deliver sessions on website development, selling online, social media, online marketing, cyber security, international sales and managing teams remotely.
Anyone interested in IGNITE should register at www.ignitehub.co.uk where you can also book a desk or meeting room.