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Online business tool launched to help early start businesses

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Would-be Lancashire entrepreneurs are being encouraged to use a new online tool to see if their business idea has the potential to be Lancashire’s next big success story.

The new ‘Rapid Idea Evaluation’ tool has been unveiled by experts from Boost Business Lancashire – the county’s new £7.2m Business Growth Hub – to help potential start-up businesses grade their potential for success.

Using the Boost Business Lancashire (Boost) website, potential entrepreneurs are encouraged to answer 20 short questions about their business idea on topics such as vision, motivation, experience, competitors, routes to market and customer needs.

The tool uses a special formula to give those completing the form a percentage chance of business success and an action plan for areas that need further focus. Boost advisors are then able to contact the most promising entrepreneurs to offer them further support in relevant areas.

The resource was developed through extensive collaboration with entrepreneurs, investors and business advisors and is used as part of the Lancashire LEAP initiative that focuses on support for pre-start and early-start businesses across Lancashire. Lancashire LEAP is being delivered by Winning Pitch and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire as part of the Boost Business Lancashire programme.

Tim Smith, senior consultant at Winning Pitch, said: “Lancashire has a rich vein of business innovation and we know there are people in the county with great business ideas but who lack the full knowledge and support to turn these ideas into reality. Our Rapid Idea Evaluation tool has been designed as a first step to help engage with those people who want to explore their idea further.

“Boost Business Lancashire has a range of specific business support programmes that are delivered by experts and tailored to assist these pre-start and early-start businesses in areas such as product development, innovation, developing a growth strategy and funding.”

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “It's important that we have the right conditions for business growth.  Boost Business Lancashire is a catalyst to grow the county’s economy by £20m, with the aim of creating at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015. By offering guidance and support for would-be entrepreneurs, we can help to create the next generation of successful businesses.”

Boost Business Lancashire aims grow the county’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

It is being delivered through a partnership between Lancashire County Council, Community & Business Partners, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Winning Pitch. £3.6m of funding has been provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Those looking to test their business idea with the Rapid Evaluation Tool can visit /leap

Six Lancashire business ideas that went global…

  1. Netlon: Blackburn’s Dr Brian Mercer invented the netlon process in the 1950s, enabling plastic to be extruded into a net-like form in a single process. He founded Netlon Ltd in Blackburn in 1959 with his products going on to be used in the stabilisation and reinforcement of soil for construction projects around the world. Dr Mercer died in 1998, but the company he founded is now part of the worldwide Tensar Group.
  2. Promethean World: Founded in Blackburn in 1997 by Tony Cann who had developed a range of software for use in company presentations and meetings. The software enabled the creation of interactive whiteboard technology for schools. Today Promethean is a global company listed on the FTSE 100 and its technology has helped to educate over 12 million individuals in over 500,000 classrooms in 100 countries.
  3. Science in Sport: Founded in Lancashire in 1992, the company became a pioneer in sports nutrition and performance through its range of energy and nutrition products. Over the years many World Champions, Olympic medal winners and elite athletes have used SiS products to fuel their training and competition needs. Now based in Nelson, the company exports its products all over the world.
  4. Building Design Partnership: Founded in Preston in 1961 by architect Sir George Grenfell-Baines, BDP was the first ‘multi-disciplinary’ architecture practice, bringing architects, designers and engineers under the same roof to provide a single managed service. BDP is now a major international businesses and its approach to delivering buildings has been copied by firms all over the world.
  5. Advanced Music Systems: Founded in Burnley in 1976 by Mark Crabtree and Stuart Nevison, the company made its name in the manufacture of professional studio equipment. The company’s products have been used in music recording and film studios around the world and are acclaimed by some of the globe’s most well known musicians and film producers. The company is now known as AMS Neve and is still based in Billington Road, Burnley.
  6. Fisherman’s Friend: Invented in 1865 in Fleetwood to help soothe the blocked sinuses of fishermen, the menthol and eucalyptus lozenges are still made in Fleetwood by Lofthouse’s and are sold in more than 100 countries.
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