Entrepreneurs who are part of an incubator designed to help companies grow and thrive in County Durham will now be able to access up to £10,000 of funding each.

Durham City Incubator (DCI), based at Salvus House, in Aykley Heads, Durham, has recently launched, and is open to businesses that have been trading for under 12 months and are based in County Durham.

DCI has partnered with Northstar Ventures to provide a loan fund of up to £7,500 to successful businesses which secure a place on the programme. Funding has come from the North East Innovation Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and managed by Northstar Ventures.

Companies will also be able to tap into six months of intensive support designed to ensure they are ready for the next stage of growth, with training and advice ranging from financing and marketing to legal issues and business strategy and much more.

Both DCI and Northstar are looking to support ambitious entrepreneurs that have the potential to grow and scale a business in Durham. Durham City Incubator already offers a £2,500 grant and the addition of the option to access a £7,500 loan at such an early stage may provide the financial solution to enable a business to grow a concept or market a new product or service.

The incubator is a unique collaboration between Durham University, New College Durham and Business Durham, the economic development organisation, which works on behalf of Durham County Council.

Sarah Slaven, operations director at Business Durham, said: “Both DCI and Northstar are looking to support ambitious entrepreneurs that have the potential to grow and scale a business in Durham.

Businesses can really struggle to secure funding, particularly at a ‘proof of concept’ phase so the partnership with Northstar Ventures is fantastic news.”

Stephen Price, Investment Director at Northstar Ventures, said, “”We’re delighted to support DCI on this innovative and unique programme which offers ambitious local entrepreneurs fantastic support in the critical early stages of their venture.  We’re really looking forward to working with the young companies that participate and supporting them to make a real impact to the local economy.”

The programme is open to any companies trading for under one year.  To apply, candidates will need to fill in an application form online. Those successful will be invited to attend a pitching event in December this year. Business owners should be ambitious and committed self-starters who have the drive to succeed and have plans to scale up their business to the next level.

The Incubator has been developed as part of a wider drive to grow the Durham City economy and to offer Durham University graduates and New College Durham students high quality facilities and business support to grow their ventures in Durham City.

Durham City Incubator is part of Durham Internships and Collaborative Enterprise (DICE), which is part funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Fund Programme

For more information on the Durham City Incubator, log onto dcincubator.co.uk.