09 Feb 2023

New funding puts innovators on path to bright business future

Business support

Leeds City Council has confirmed new funding for a range of initiatives designed to help aspiring business innovators make their mark on the world.

The council’s Innovation@Leeds programme recently launched a scheme offering grants to organisations that are ready, willing and able to provide expert support to grassroots entrepreneurs looking to develop their own trailblazing businesses.

Applications were opened in the autumn as part of Innovation@Leeds’s ongoing mission to ensure that people from diverse backgrounds in Leeds have the means and motivation to follow their dreams in fields such as digital and other emerging technologies.

Now a dozen successful bids have been announced, with grants ranging from £5,000 to £25,000 being used to fund initiatives called No Code Lab, Launchpad Music Innovators, OneTech Leeds, Super Squad, Digital Sport North, LegalTech In Leeds, D-List, VMC2023, Sustainable Leeds, FinTech North: Challenge Leeds, AI Accelerator Leeds and Fund Her Leeds.

Running over the next few months, these events and programmes will give people access to the kind of know-how, training and networking opportunities that can improve their personal investability, while also strengthening Leeds’s reputation as a place with a thriving innovation ecosystem that connects world-class research and development with high-growth businesses and a skilled labour market.

This collaborative work with a new generation of entrepreneurs is the latest stage in a series of systematic and strategic investments by the council in Leeds’s innovation ecosystem. It also ties in with a city-wide vision – co-created by the council with key local partners – that aims to drive innovation in a way that has a positive social and environmental impact.

One crucial element 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 executive member for economy, culture and education, said:

“Leeds is a city bursting with ideas and talent, and the council is determined to do everything it can to harness that energy in a way that benefits us all.

“We therefore want to encourage innovative business activity which makes a real difference to people’s lives by driving inclusive growth, promoting collaboration and tackling inequalities.

“We also want to make sure that people from all backgrounds across the city have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and these Innovation@Leeds grants will help us achieve that.

“In addition, the awards underline our commitment to building a world-class innovation ecosystem that involves a diverse range of partners and fosters close links between education, business and local communities. I look forward to seeing how the various initiatives take shape over the coming months.”

Click here for further information about the projects being supported by the new Innovation@Leeds grants. They include:

  • No Code Lab’s Super Hack 2023, an event that will see teams of self-confessed ‘non-techies’ from local businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations working against the clock – and competing with each other – as they tackle a technology challenge. The day’s proceedings will then end in style with a final contest between the two top teams in front of a live audience. No Code Lab is a partnership between Panintelligence and Halston Group.
  • Sustainable Leeds, an initiative that will provide business and commercialisation support to between 10 and 15 locally-based climate tech organisations. The scheme will also build on its engagement with the organisations to identify ways to strengthen the climate tech sector in both Leeds and the wider region. Sustainable Leeds is a partnership between Sustainable Ventures, Europe’s largest climate tech ecosystem, and Nexus, the University of Leeds’s innovation community.
  • Fund Her Leeds, which aims to give female business founders – particularly those from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities – support that will help them locate and attract investment capital. The programme, which is a partnership between Fund Her North and the Yorkshire Asian Business Community Association, will include elements such as ‘validating your business model’, ‘preparing your business for growth, commercialisation and internationalisation’ and ‘how to get pitch ready’.

The grants aim to build on the success of an Innovation@Leeds pilot scheme that funded a number of conferences and other knowledge-sharing events last year.

The pilot events attracted hundreds of in-person attendees, supported around 100 innovative start-ups and gave dozens of students the opportunity to hone their business development skills.

The new Innovation@Leeds grants are funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, co-ordinated by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and led by Leeds City Council.

Note to editors:

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6bn of funding for local investment by March 2025. The fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK by investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. Click here for further information.


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team