A Suffolk initiative that nurtures entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas has been awarded £45,000 in funding by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Innovation Labs was launched in Stowmarket last year with the aim of fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, business growth and the development of an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Centre of Excellence.

Under the scheme, start-up ventures in the region can apply for one of 25 free virtual memberships for 12 months. Each membership includes exclusive benefits such as high-level mentoring, access to funding advice, business and innovation training sessions, and support for business plan development.

The scheme has been made possible after New Anglia LEP awarded funding of £45,000 from its Innovative Projects Fund, a revenue grant programme designed to further economic and industrial strategies.

Mid Suffolk District Council is also backing the initiative, which will form the focal point for developing Stowmarket’s world leading cluster of technology and manufacturing companies.

Peter Brady, CEO at Orbital Global, said: “The pandemic has made many people assess their career aspirations. This initiative is a great opportunity for those who have long considered developing an innovative idea, but lacked the know-how, funds or confidence to take it further.

“In what has been a very challenging year, Innovation Labs wants to play its part in offering hope and opportunity to Suffolk’s aspiring entrepreneurs. Our virtual memberships provide a unique blend of world leading support, advice, and skills, at a time when start-ups need them most.”

Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of the LEP, added: “Norfolk and Suffolk have established an excellent reputation for innovation and supporting start-ups and fostering business growth, especially in such a challenging climate, will be vital to the recovery effort over the coming months.

“This initiative represents an excellent opportunity to back those with great business concepts, but who don’t know how to take them to the next level.”

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