South West - West of England
The team are looking for creative businesses who are exploring growth opportunities, such as reaching new customers, developing or taking a product or service to market, and expanding to new markets. Part of the South West region, the West of England is being led by the West of England Combined Authority. It encompasses Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
West of England Combined Authority
West of England
About the region
Having taken part in the Creative Scale-Up Pilot, the team received lots of great feedback and are applying their learnings to the new cohort. One priority is to make the programme less Bristol- centric – which is a well-networked city – and encourage more applications from other areas.
Diversity is another priority for the West of England, aiming for a ratio of 40% diversity- led businesses. This requires at least 50% of a company’s founders or directors to be female, disabled or from minority ethnic backgrounds.
With no particular sub-sectors, the team have purposely selected a wide spread of businesses, covering everything from advertising and marketing to arts and crafts, design and fashion, gaming, music and television.
To create a strategic plan for each company, businesses were required to explain their ambition and share which growth opportunities they wanted to focus on in their applications.
Emma Cox, Creative Project Officer for the Business and Skills Directorate said, “we understand that each business is very different and that growth isn’t exclusive to investment. It can look different for everyone.”
“Having access to people from the industry who have owned creative businesses is really beneficial.”
Emma Cox, Creative Project Officer for the Business and Skills Directorate
Objectives and delivery
As well as supporting investment readiness, the West of England team are helping founders build relationships with fellow business owners, programme alumni and investors.
Businesses can access mentors using a grant of £2,500, with a focus on finding the right mentor who can address their specific challenges.
Emma says, “Businesses aren’t just looking for any kind of investment. Values are really important, so it’s crucial to find an investor who has values which align with the businesses.”
The programme is being delivered in partnership with Watershed, who are facilitating online training sessions with industry experts, exploring a different topic each month. This is followed by deep-dive, peer-to-peer sessions where founders can share their challenges and explore solutions.
Following the pilot, West of England alumni will also share their experiences and share learnings. Emma says, “We’re fortunate that we’ve got businesses who we’ve been working with since 2020 and are able to have those conversations. Being able to support these businesses after the programme ends is really vital.”
Impact and response
After the success of the pilot and subsequent learnings, the programme is already garnering a great response. Investor feedback has been really positive, many of whom have become mentors to support businesses on the programme.
The team are already seeing important relationships and collaborations across the region, thanks to peer networking and regular events to bring past and present cohorts together. The programme launch event was held at a venue run by programme alumni, showcasing the impact and success of the programme.
Cross-regional collaboration has also been valuable; building relationships with other regions has been extremely rewarding. Emma explains that the “knowledge exchange sessions in person are really valuable”, supporting better communication, understanding and standard of delivery across the regions.