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Durham City Incubator Boosts Local Businesses

Seven County Durham entrepreneurs are on track for success after signing up to a six-month accelerator programme to help boost their businesses.

Durham City Incubator (DCI), was set up in 2018 as a joint venture between Durham University, New College Durham and Business Durham, to support ambitious businesses based in the county who have been trading for under 12 months achieve their goals, as well as to support local entrepreneurs launch start-ups with high growth potential.

Through its first two programmes, DCI has supported 16 entrepreneurs to launch their businesses and achieve national recognition and investment funding.

Due to their success, DCI is now working with seven exciting new businesses covering a wide range of sectors including research, technology, catering, design, and education.

Each business will benefit from a £2,500 grant as well as six months of intensive support to ensure they are ready for the next stage of growth, with training and advice ranging from financing and marketing to legal issues and business strategy and much more.

The six-month programme is delivered through boot camps, one-to-one support, mentoring sessions, workshops, seminars, and networking events.

The seven Durham based companies included in the latest cohort are: Doxa Consultancy, an organisation that provides students and researchers with professional support  to facilitate the completion of academic projects; a networking platform Scientistt that provides a networking tool for research students and academic research groups, as well as promoting research opportunities; The Little LunchBox, a lunchbox delivery service offering a range of healthy, creative foods for children; GW Technologies, an online platform for internships that connects employers and students together; Instant Messaging Service, ChatPro Ltd, an instant messaging platform that complies with safeguarding requirements; branding and design agency, Alderham Design Ltd; and Vanguard Technology, a medtech company developing  an innovative product.

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director at Business Durham, said: “We’re delighted to be working with a third cohort of ambitious new businesses. We’re really looking forward to working closely with our partners to help nurture and support the entrepreneurs as they grow and scale up their business in Durham.

“It is great to see the Incubator continuing to attract innovative businesses that are choosing to start-up in Durham.  With our support, the entrepreneurs can gain the skills they need to build a business with longevity and which will make a real impact on the local economy.”

In addition, each of the businesses on the programme has the option to access a £7,500 loan due to DCI’s partnership with Northstar Ventures. Funding has come from the North East Innovation Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and managed by Northstar Ventures.

Dr Tim Hammond, Director of Commercialisation and Economic Development at Durham University, said:  “As a partner of the Durham City Incubator (DCI), we are delighted to see the continued success of the programme.

“Four Durham University start-ups will receive support in the third cohort of the programme, and we are looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop over the coming months.

“Supporting start-ups in County Durham is central to the area’s economic growth and helps us to make sure the University’s research has a positive impact on the region and further afield.”

Dawn Fairlamb, Vice Principal at New College Durham added: “Having been involved with DCI from the beginning, we’re delighted to see it continue for a third cohort. What makes it even more exciting for us, is one of our own graduates will be part of the programme with his business Alderham Design Ltd. New College Durham Graduate, Jacob Ham, is the founder of the company, which is a branding and design agency catering for SMEs. We’re really looking forward to seeing Jacob and all the other entrepreneurs’ businesses develop with the incubator. It’s such a fantastic opportunity for young entrepreneurs to take advantage of.”

The Incubator was developed as part of a wider drive to grow the Durham City economy and to offer Durham University graduates and New College Durham students high quality facilities and business support to grow their ventures in Durham City.

Durham City Incubator is part of Durham Internships and Collaborative Enterprise (DICE), which is part funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

DCI runs in cohorts that each last six months. For more information on the Durham City Incubator and to apply for the next cohort, visit

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