11 Nov 2020

Leaders rally together to help build a better tomorrow

Joint Press Release with Nexus Leeds

Senior leaders from across the Leeds City Region have joined forces to provide urgent support for innovators and entrepreneurs who will be key to the recovery of our future economy.

The ‘Build a Better Tomorrow’ challenge, part of the new BUILD programme, has been launched by the Leeds City Region cohort who participated in Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP). MIT REAP is a global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth through innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

The BUILD programme and ‘Build a Better Tomorrow’ challenge is looking for people who have business ideas with the potential to solve the issues that matter most to society. Successful BUILD applicants will benefit from a comprehensive 12 week programme covering a broad range of topics, as well as valuable connections to world-class experts and over 30 of the Leeds City Region’s most successful entrepreneurs.

The BUILD programme has been conceived by the MIT REAP Leeds team which includes senior leaders from Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, KPMG and ARUP as well as entrepreneurs Adam Beaumont, Ben Ziff and David Aspin, amongst others and is championed by the University of Leeds and Nexus.

The 12 week programme, running from January to April 2021, is designed specifically for early stage start-ups to help accelerate business ideas that have the potential and ambition to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change, health and wellbeing, access to education, mobility, sustainable living, and inequality.

The programme provides participants with the tools, approach and connections they will need to get-to-market, secure their first customers, generate revenue, attract investment and scale their businesses.

BUILD creates a community for start-ups to connect with and learn from like-minded cohort members, mentors, business and technical specialists, corporates such as KPMG, Arup, and Elmwood and investors including Mercia and NorthInvest. Programme participants will also benefit from the experience of local entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their businesses including; PanIntelligence, Top Screen Media, Crisp, Rradar, BeerHawk, Digibete, Pinpoint, Keracol, Liria Digital Health and the Data Shed and the recently launched Impact Hub in Bradford.


Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said:

“The ongoing pandemic has been extremely challenging not just for the economy as a whole, but for individual businesses, entrepreneurs and small start-ups. We need to work together to create solutions to the current and future problems we will face that have become prevalent in this crisis.

“It is important in times of change that we encourage and support innovation and new ways of thinking, particularly across diverse and underrepresented groups, to drive forward brighter futures, stronger economies, healthier societies and more opportunities for all. The BUILD programme provides these opportunity for new businesses and innovators to come together, collaborate and thrive.”

Dr Martin Stow, MIT REAP Team Leeds Champion and Nexus Director said:

“We’re delighted to be launching the BUILD programme with the Build a Better Tomorrow challenge, an initiative that demonstrates Team Leeds’ firm commitment to making a positive difference to our region as we plan for emergence from the COVID crisis. The programme is a fantastic opportunity for early stage start-up businesses across the region to draw upon the wealth of knowledge and experience of successful entrepreneurs and enterprises as they look to scale their businesses. We’re targeting start-ups who have an idea that could have a positive impact on society and are excited to see how the BUILD programme can support them to achieve their business ambitions and build a better tomorrow.” 


BUILD is committed to engaging and supporting a diverse group of founders and aspiring entrepreneurs, and will champion underrepresented talent. As such, founders from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  The programme will take 15 founders through a mostly-virtual programme of workshops, inspirational talks, and 1:1 mentoring from Jan - April 2021.


Entrepreneur David Aspin (part of the team who conceived BUILD) said:

“I am excited to see our strategy being put into action at such an important time. Entrepreneurs will play a key part of helping our region recover and prosper in the future, and it is a real privilege to be shaping that future.”

Roger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Enterprise Partnership said:

“Our work with MIT REAP will help fuel the resurgence and boost the economic growth of the Leeds City Region and accelerate the development of start-ups who are building scalable businesses designed to improve people's lives.”

Tom Bridges from ARUP said:

“We’re really excited to meet and support the start-ups going through BUILD, which aligns itself with ARUP’s commitment to pursuing projects, initiatives and partnerships which improve the lives of those most in need, and we look forward to sharing our expertise with and hearing the ideas of the cohort.’

Justine Andrew from KPMG said:

‘Technology is at the heart of everything we do, and we love meeting and working with businesses that are improving the lives of others through their technology – we can’t wait to hear what ideas the start-ups have, and support them as they build their ideas into businesses ready for customers and investment’


If you’re and early stage start-up with an idea that has the potential to change society for the better you can apply to take part in the challenge by visiting https://mitreapleedscityregion.com/build

You can register your interest by completing the online application form, by the 11 December 2020 deadline. Successful applicants will start the programme mid-January 2021.

For media enquiries contact:

Georgia Beattie
Leeds City Council