The University of Northampton’s support for new businesses has contributed to the town being named the best place for business start-ups outside London.
The think tank’s Centre for Cities’ latest Cities Outlook 2016 report revealed that Northampton had the highest average increase in the number of businesses and the highest margin between start-ups and closures during 2013-14.
As a ‘Changemaker Campus’, designated by Ashoka U – a title given only to leading institutions in social innovation education – the University has placed four challenges at the centre of its strategic plan that will take it to 2020. One of these challenges is to make Northamptonshire the best county in the UK to start, build and run a business.
In 2013, The University of Northampton, Northamptonshire County Council and Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership launched the Northamptonshire Growth Hub to improve the support offered to businesses in the county.
In just two years, the Hub has handled over 2,000 enquiries from businesses looking for an extensive range of growth support from early stage one-to-one guidance to a more comprehensive business growth strategy.
Northamptonshire Growth Hub Manager Janette Pallas, pictured, said: “To be named as the best place to start a business outside the capital is a tremendous accolade that is testament to the dedication of our local politicians, councils, the university, and of course those who harness the entrepreneurial spirit and make their ambitions a reality.
“The University is proud to work with our partners to bring enterprise back to Northampton, and pledge to use this momentum to help the next generation of business start-ups.”
Last year, the University opened the doors to its new Innovation Centre at the heart of the town’s Enterprise Zone. The £8.5m centre provides office accommodation and support services for small businesses and organisations with social innovation, impact and entrepreneurship at their core.
Tenants have access to specialist University of Northampton business support to help them measure and develop their social value.
In 2016, The University announced an alliance with The Business Club Northants that will provide opportunities for club members to provide work experience for selected students on a regular basis, as well as take part in business presentations at the university.
Janette Pallas added: “Through social enterprise initiatives embedded in teaching and learning on its courses, University of Northampton students have unique opportunities to develop high level work place and entrepreneurial skills. That, combined with our support activities, means we are well on our way to meeting the challenge of making Northants the best county in the UK for business.”