Creative Stoke


(Latest news of opportunities for local creatives can be found on the What's New page.)

     BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: self-employed & partnerships

::  StartUp Britain - offers new entrepreneurs access to �1,500 worth of support via the website. The package of assistance includes free services from the likes of AXA, Barclays, Experian, Google, Intel, Microsoft, McKinsey & Company, O2 and Virgin Media. Many other leading firms have agreed to provide free desk space, mentoring, marketing, and advertising to new start-ups. Even school kids who want to practice their business skills will qualify for new �10 loans, helping them set up their own playground or other enterprises! StartUp Britain is a not-for-profit company, not funded by the government. See also the "taking on an employee" five-step toolkit (2012).

::  Burslem Live/Work - live/work units and retail in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.

::  BizFizz - has a local representative and coaches start-up businesses in Stoke-on-Trent. Funded by the Coalfields Trust.

::  Staffordshire Business Innovation Centre - runs one-day training days.

::  WIRE Staffordshire (Women in Rural Enterprise for Business).

::  The Hub - based at Stafford and offering business support services for rural Staffordshire.

::  The Crafts Council - has various schemes that provide financial, business and professional development support for craft makers.

::  NESTA: Investment & Innovation - grants to support innovation, up to £50k. Available to businesses of less than 5 people.

::  The Design Trust - offers a free 40-page guide to starting a design-based business.

::  PRIME - the national charity which helps people aged over 50 to set up in business. They have loans of up to £5,000 available.

 The Inland Revenue in Stoke-on-Trent offers free one-to-one visits & workshops on starting a new business, including people starting out in self-employment.


     BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: small & medium companies

::  North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce - based at Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent. Information about neighbouring Chambers can be found at the West Midlands Chambers hub, and the adjacent South Cheshire Chamber can also be useful for larger firms to join.

::   - the Staffordshire inward-investment agency. Useful for larger creative businesses seeking to relocate here from outside the area.

::  Make It Stoke-on-Trent - the city's inward investment office.

::  North Staffordshire Business Growth Network for those operating in local professional services. Launched Oct 2012.

::  The local universities have business support and liason sections on their website: Staffordshire University's For Business, and Keele University's Business Support.

::  Business Enterprise Support: Staffordshire - offers a four-month business training scheme, which is subsidised. They also offer specialist women-only support.

::  Business Brokers - run a trading fair for North Staffordshire companies, and can provide individual business support.

::  The Late Payment Act - enables small businesses to charge interest on late payments due to them.



::  Considering venturing into exports? Need to evaluate the risks of doing business with a particular country? The government�s Overseas Business Risk Service is a free service which assists British companies, particularly those exporting to high growth and emerging markets.

::  The government's UK Trade & Investment has a Web hub for exporters. Staffordshire County Council also has a central page for the county's exporters.


     BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: business networking events

::  Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce - based at Festival Park, Stoke-on-Trent.

::  Finest - the main business networking club for professionals in North Staffordshire.

::  Business Network International: North Staffordshire.

::  Federation of Small Businesses: Staffordshire and West Midlands Region.


     BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: graduates & youth

::  After a slow start in 2012, the UK's Startup Loans service has now loaned "more than �10 million" to 18-30 year old entrepreneurs in the UK. They now report that they have another �5.5 million to spend, taking the Startup Loans fund to �117.5 million. The service is intended for those who would rather start a business than go to university, and offers the equivalent of the low-rate student loan to fledgling entreprenuers.

::  The Prince's Trust - supporting people aged 18-30 starting in business. The Trust has an office in Stoke-on-Trent.

::  Staffordshire University has BE Inspired - a support programme for graduate startups.

::  Staffordshire University Creative Village - managed workspace for graduates, located on the Stoke-on-Trent campus and conveniently near the train station.

::   West Midlands Graduate Advantage - provides internships for unemployed graduates.

::  Burslem's 6Towns Radio has available... "discounts [on radio advertising] to new business startups trading in Stoke-on-Trent". They also have the ideal vehicle for ads for new creative firms and services, in the form of the regular Leeka's Kulture Klub show on Wednesdays. Interested? Email:

::  Young Enterprise - a charity of 12 regional organisations, bringing volunteers from business to work with teachers and pupils.


     BUSINESS START-UP SUPPORT: research & development

::  R&D Tax Credits - small and medium-sized businesses spending over £10,000 on Research & Development can get tax credits of up to 150%.

::  CIF Management Consultants - based in Stoke-on-Trent. Formerly the Ceramics Industry Forum.



::  Contracts Finder lists all UK local and national government contracts worth over �10,000. Charities and social enterprises also have the similar Funding Central.

::  The Sentinel newspaper: business section (each Wednesday).


     SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: intellectual-property

::  Swindell & Pearson - large legal firm, specialising in providing expert Intellectual Property advice on all aspects of design, copyright and trademarks. Offices at Federation House, Stoke town (Stoke-upon-Trent).

::  Grindeys Corporate Legal Services - long-established legal firm based in Stoke. Stephen Grocott is their partner who specialises in Intellectual Property law.

::  The Patent Office - Guidance for Designs & Designers on the new Design Registration service in the EU.



::  .

::   - has an excellent reputation, and because it sells only hand-made items it has consistently strong visitor numbers. Folksy is also worth investigating.

::   Lulu - online shops for selling your print-on-demand (POD) books. They also offer an affordable route to get your POD books onto Amazon UK. For printing higher-quality POD photobooks, see Blurb.



::  The �15m Creative Employment Programme launched in Manchester in 2013. Over the next 2 years this �15m programme will aim to generate:

  1,600 Pre-Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-18 year olds
  2,900 Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-24 year olds
  2,000 paid Internships, targeted at 18-24 year olds

::  At March 2013 normal apprenticeships are available, with funding of �1,500 per apprentice available via the local F.E. Colleges in North Staffordshire.

::   West Midlands Graduate Advantage - provides internships for unemployed graduates.


     SPECIALIST BUSINESS SERVICES: venture capital & loans

::  Enterprise Finance Guarantee - provides loans to small businesses which can't obtain loans from traditional lenders.

::  Coalfields Enterprise Fund - makes commercial venture capital loans from �40,000 to �500,000, in ex-coalmining areas, of which North Staffordshire is one.

::  UK Steel Enterprise - offers unsecured Access to Finance loans of �25,000 and �750,000 to suitable small businesses creating "sustainable jobs" in ex steel-making areas, of which Stoke-on-Trent is one. Also available in parts of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

::  The Prince's Trust can provide help to people aged 18 to 30, to enable them to become self-employed in the creative arts. The Princes Trust have an office at Shelton Enterprise Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, and are able to make low-interest business loans up to a maximum of £5,000.

::  The Innovation Networks scheme for the West Midlands is set to run to March 2015. The scheme offers small �10,000 grants to West Midlands projects that are... "...truly innovative, resulting in a new product, process or service and provide tangible benefits for the West Midlands economy".

::  Michelin Development Fund has �1-million of unsecured loans (from �5,000 each) on offer to small businesses in North Staffordshire.



Made in Staffordshire, England.  This page updated and link-checked: August 2013.
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