The University of Lincoln has launched its pilot business growth accelerator to drive digital innovation and growth across the region.

Spark Accelerator, which will be based in the university’s award-winning business incubation centre Sparkhouse, will provide a free-of-charge package of funding, mentor-led guidance and networking opportunities designed to build a business’ capacity and improve performance.

The ten-week programme is due to begin in the spring and will be supported by well-known business leaders from across the county who will deliver workshops on everything from business planning and pitching to HR and marketing.

Rebecca Webster, the programme lead, said: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming our first cohort to this excellent programme. There are so many great businesses thriving in the county, but we know how difficult it can be in the early years which is why we’ve set up Spark Accelerator.

“Our initial focus is on start-ups that are either in the digital sector, or using new technologies to transform other sectors, because we see these as key to stimulating the local economy long-term”

Successful applicants will be able to use office space within Sparkhouse during the programme, and will also have access to funding (up to £40,000 for the programme). A number of specialist mentors will provide professional support, including:

Simon Meadows from Sterling Business Coaching; Jo Wilson from Fill the Gap; David Jones from Habit5; Kerri Saxby and Sam Clarke from Shooting Star; Suzanne Tricker from Amica HR; Simon Sydall from Duncan & Toplis; Keith Loven from Loven Patents and Trademarks and Gary Brown, MBE.

Applications are open now for businesses that have been running for less than two years.

For more information please visit the Spark Accelerator website www.SparkAccelerator.co.uk

To keep up to date with programme’s developments follow Spark Accelerator on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.