A new business support programme has been launched to help grow new and existing businesses across the city of Sunderland.

Enterprising Sunderland, funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and overseen by Sunderland City Council, has been set up to help stimulate business start-up, growth and innovation.

The programme, which is being delivered by a consortium of delivery partners from across the city, will provide advice and support to those already running – or looking to run – their own business.

This includes inspiring residents to consider self-employment and providing opportunities for everyone to access free, tailored advice, workshops and online resources, as well as free, monthly events to help existing entrepreneurs overcome the common challenges often associated with growing a business.

The consortium delivering the programme, led by the North East BIC, includes Back on the Map, Sunderland Bangladeshi International Centre, Sunderland BME Network, The Prince’s Trust, University of Sunderland, Smarta and Sunderland City Council.

Paul McEldon OBE, Chief Executive of the BIC, said: “We are thrilled to be part of the consortium which has been established to deliver Enterprising Sunderland.

“Sunderland is home to so many entrepreneurs who are blazing a trail globally, yet the city remains well below the UK average in terms of the number of residents choosing to set up their own businesses.

“That’s why programmes such as this, which will help build the confidence of those wishing to set up a business and give existing businesses the support required to innovate and grow, are so important.

“By bringing together like-minded organisations, all of whom are embedded within the city’s communities, will help us ensure this support reaches those who really need it, especially those in some of the city’s harder to reach communities.

“The impact it could have, not only on the local economy but also on residents’ lives, is absolutely huge, so I think I speak for all involved when I say how excited we are to be involved and how we can’t wait to get started.”

Those looking to set up a business can tap into one-to-one support from expert business advisers and attend workshops, in venues across the city, to help them understand everything they need to know about setting up a business.

Growth Lab Sunderland will also see existing businesses come together in a relaxed environment to share insights on how they have grown their business and what their plans are for the future. The first event will take place on Thursday 28th March at Café 1851, with local entrepreneurs Harry Collinson (Café 1851), Simon Whitaker (Master Debonair) and Mandy Brown (Harrison & Brown) among the inaugural speakers.

Paul added: “We want this programme to be accessible to absolutely everyone, which is why we are working with partner organisations from across the city to reach out to as many communities as possible.

“It’s also why we are tailoring our support to meet the needs of people at all stages of their business journey, be it workshops for those looking to start up for the first time or Growth Lab Sunderland to help existing businesses realise their true potential.

“Afterall, they say everyone has a business idea inside of them, so we want to help as many people as we can to realise their potential and help grow the region’s economy, so we’d urge anyone interested to get involved.”

Enterprising Sunderland is funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). The UKSPF is part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, aiming to improve the standard of living across the UK by investing in communities, supporting local businesses, people, and skills.

Local authorities have been able to channel funding into areas of greatest priority, with Sunderland City Council taking on board the feedback of local organisations and companies to agree how funding could be best used to support their development.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The Enterprising Sunderland programme will provide a major boost to the city’s economy, ensuring our entrepreneurs and businesses have all of the tools required to unlock their potential and continue growing.

“Our business community has demonstrated incredible resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity over the last few years, and this support will act as a catalyst for further growth as they look to the future and take positive decisions to spur on growth.”

The project has received £1,271,885 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and is being overseen by Sunderland City Council.

If you’d like to enquire about starting a business, visit ne-bic.co.uk