03 Jun 2024

Businesses can blaze a trail with new funding support

Business support

Leeds City Council has confirmed new funding support for events and projects that will help local business innovators get big results from bright ideas.

The council’s Innovation@Leeds programme invited grant applications earlier this year from organisations keen to play their part in giving aspiring entrepreneurs and other bold thinkers the opportunities they need to realise their potential.

Nearly 60 applications were received – and now, following a competitive selection process, six successful bidders have been awarded grants totalling £55,000.

The funding will support a series of knowledge-sharing events – with associated activity such as mentoring and networking – aimed at people from diverse communities and backgrounds who want to found or further develop their own innovation-led businesses.

These events will, it is hoped, enhance their skills, contacts and personal investability, giving them the best chance of success in their chosen fields.

The grant scheme has also been designed to benefit the wider city economy by driving inclusive growth while showcasing Leeds’s innovation strengths to outside investors.

The initiatives chosen to receive funding are:

  • Climb24, a festival of ‘innovation, industry and investment’ taking place at Leeds Dock on Wednesday and Thursday this week where 30 local businesses – many founded by people from under-represented communities – will get the chance to promote their ideas to potential partners, industry leaders and customers. Last year’s Climb23 event attracted 1,500 delegates, more than 220 speakers and 150 active investors;
  • The Athena Festival, a groundbreaking day-long conference at the University of Leeds’s Nexus innovation hub that will bring together female founders, investors and stakeholders from across the North;
  • Events and activities – including a funding options workshop for 100 Black business founders where they will meet investors – led by the Include Me and D-List open community platforms;
  • A co-design workshop and other inclusive development activity that will drive forward plans for an Ingenuity innovation hub at White Rose Park in south Leeds, focusing on the creation of a real-world testbed for the innovation ecosystem;
  • Four interactive events – held in Leeds but live-streamed nationwide – that will turn a spotlight on innovations in the green, eco and sustainability sectors. The events will be run by the Greenhouse innovation accelerator programme;
  • Three face-to-face events that will help digital health leaders and innovators share best practice. The events, plus associated website development and communications work, will be organised by a consortium called Leeds Digital Health.

The award of the grants aligns with a city-wide vision – co-created by the council with key local partners – for stimulating innovation in a way that has a positive social impact.

One crucial aspect of that vision is the further development and transformation of the Leeds Innovation Arc, an area on the west side of the city centre that is home to globally-renowned educational, health and cultural establishments as well as an array of start-ups, scale-ups and major businesses.

Prestigious ‘anchor’ institutions in the area include the University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, all working alongside the council to fly the flag for the city as a leader in cutting-edge sectors such as health innovation and financial, creative and digital tech.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and sustainable development, said:

“We are determined to give people from all backgrounds and communities across our city the best possible chance to make the most of their talents.

“The events and projects supported by the new Innovation@Leeds grants will help us achieve our aim by providing a launchpad for a diverse range of business founders, aspiring entrepreneurs and imaginative thinkers.

“Success for them will, it is hoped, bring wider benefits to the city’s economy through the creation of jobs and other opportunities.

“The grants also underline the role that collaboration has played and continues to play in Leeds’s innovation sector, where world-class research and development work blazes a trail alongside high-growth businesses and a skilled labour market.”

Similar grant schemes were run by Innovation@Leeds during the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years.


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team