Budget 2015: Government announces startup incubator investment for the north

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The chancellor announced £11m funding for new tech entrepreneur hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield in the Budget on Wednesday.

The Department for Business said these hubs will be based on the Google Campus model that "has helped to transform East London into a world centre for digital start-ups".

The new hubs will offer educational resources, working and meeting space, and aim to foster venture capital and angel networks.

The funding includes:

●    The Manchester Forward Plan: £4m government investment towards an eight floor incubator in Federation House, located in Manchester's Northern Quarter (£20m private funding secured)
●    Sheffield Maker Hub: £3.5m government investment to renovate a former Co-op department store in the Castlegate area (£13 million private funding secured)
●    Leeds Future Labs: £3.7m government investment to renovate a derelict police headquarters in the heart of Leeds, creating a six floor incubator (£7.8m private funding secured)

"These new hubs will bring tech entrepreneurs under one roof to share and develop their talents and ideas," Ed Vaizey, minister for Digital Economy, said. "This investment will unlock millions of pounds in private funding in the north of England, helping businesses to create jobs and grow."

The government will also provide funding to develop a financial technology incubator in Leeds.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said devolving power and creating a 'Northern Powerhouse' is important news for entrepreneurs.

"Creating a hub where people can afford to base an expanding business is strategically important for the British economy as a whole," Jones said. "At the moment small firms are being priced out of London though super-charged property costs, creating uncertainty that they will be able to afford to expand."

The scheme is part of the government's plans to build a Northern Powerhouse, which included promoting tourism, investment in rail infrastructure and allowing Greater Manchester to keep 100% of the additional growth in local business rates.

In addition to the four new tech entrepreneur hubs the government will extend the Enterprise Zones in Manchester, Mersey Waters, the Humber, Leeds and Tees Valley, and create a new zone in Blackpool. This measure will allow businesses to be able to claim 100% enhanced capital allowances on qualifying expenditure and is expected to cost £15m.

About Christopher Goodfellow

Christopher Goodfellow

Journalist and editor with nine years' experience covering small businesses and entrepreneurship (ChrisGoodfellow.net). Follow his personal twitter account @CPGoodfellow and his events business @Box2Media. He has written for a wide range of publications in the UK, Ireland and Canada, including The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Independent and Vice magazine. 


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