Wolverhampton Council is launching the new business and enterprise hub to inspire start-ups, growth and support people into employment and training.
IGNITE (Innovate, Grow, Navigate, Ideas, Technology, Entrepreneurship) is located in ground floor units 3 and 4 of the Council’s i10 office and retail complex at the heart of the city centre’s £150 million award-winning transport Interchange.
The Council has funded the new hub, which will be run in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and Black Country Chamber of Commerce to join up the business support infrastructure in the city.
It will provide free co-working and meeting space, events, training - virtual and physical - and support to inspire start-ups and business growth.
City residents will be welcomed into the hub to get advice and guidance on training and employment opportunities and utilise the free workspace. It will also support the council’s £3m Wolves at Work 18-24 programme to tackle youth unemployment in Wolverhampton.
Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “We’ve already received fantastic feedback about IGNITE and the investment we have made in this much-needed facility.
“Around 97 per cent of businesses in the city employ less than 50 people and the need for more joined up business support for SMEs is critical – and with funding cuts to other provision in the city we know this will be well-used by budding entrepreneurs, start-ups and those that require some support to establish and grow their business or to develop their ideas.
“IGNITE will provide a space to work with like-minded individuals and to access support.
“The aim is that it will deliver more business registrations and prevent start-ups from failing, and create and safeguard jobs in the city.
“We also want to engage with local training providers and develop a mentoring programme and I’d appeal to potential business mentors to get in touch with us if you think you can offer support to fledgling businesses.”
Rebecca Lewis-Knight, University of Wolverhampton entrepreneur and interior designer, Ivy Rose Interiors, added: “Starting out on your own can feel a little isolating at times, and a facility like IGNITE is a true gift, I'm so excited to see it up and running and full of life.
“Being able to meet clients, and collaborators in a place like IGNITE would be fantastic for me to deliver presentations, share design ideas and interview potential freelancers.
“It would make me feel quite established and it is a venue that is reflective of my design ethos, which is all about collaboration and togetherness to create amazing user experiences for all.
“It also facilitates the opportunity to create an organic network with other entrepreneurs. Conversations around the coffee bar can throw up all kinds of opportunities for shared wisdom, and further connection.”
Black Country Chamber of Commerce director of business services, Karen Webb, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the council and the university to bring IGNITE to Wolverhampton.
“The city is increasingly a focus for business investment and innovation and IGNITE is set to provide a hub for budding entrepreneurs and those working in business to come together for events, training and a place to share ideas and collaborate.
“We’re looking forward to playing our part to ensure that IGNITE becomes an integral part of the city’s thriving business community.”
Tim Steele, Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Opportunities at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The University of Wolverhampton is delighted to be a partner in this important initiative and in doing so to play our role in helping support, develop and upskill our local business base in this key growth sector.”
IGNITE will place an emphasis on improving digital skills and, based on demand, has the potential to deliver sessions on website development, selling online, social media, online marketing, cyber security, international sales and managing teams remotely.
Anyone interested in IGNITE should register at www.ignitehub.co.uk where people can also book a desk or meeting room.