What is the Spark programme?

Thinking of starting a business? The Spark business start up programme gets start-ups going.

Building upon the success of the pilot programme, Spark was awarded European Regional Development funding to roll out the programme to the community.

Utilising expertise from Exeter University, Plymouth University, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, Cornwall Innovation and a variety of local businesses, Spark was developed to give students at Truro and Penwith College the opportunity to build up a business while they finished their studies. It has now been awarded further funding and is available to anyone who has a business idea, or who has started a business in the last 12 months.

The programme benefits from a flexible approach to starting a business. It is a tailored programme to meet the needs of the individual (or partnership/group) and consists of a mixture of workshops, events, mentoring, support with writing a business plan and the potential for six weeks of office space and a £500 grant.

Read more on the Spark programme here.

Spark also has a strand specifically for women in business. Harnessing the positive impact that the Empowering Smart Women project had, Spark for Women works with female entrepreneurs to enable them to realise their business dreams.

Read more on the Spark for Women programme here.

European Structural and Investment Funds

The project is receiving up to £800,000 of funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/england-2014-to-2020-european-structural-and-investment-funds.

From the course

Tara Stevens, Shufflebum - Spark

Tara Stevens’ business Shufflebum was just an idea in her head three years ago. Now, the toddler clothing range is a successful business that has been sparked to life. As a busy mum, Tara’s idea was ‘put to the back boiler’ until she decided to give her idea a go with the Spark programme. Before she knew it, she was invited to discuss her idea further. The potential for Tara’s idea was spotted and she was taken through the programme where she learnt how to take her idea into the successful business that it is today. “Never before did I realise just how much information, planning and time goes into producing a business plan. I felt a great sense of achievement putting it all together”.