We need your vote! The ballot is open in the Natwest Skills and Opportunities Fund to Empower Diverse Entrepreneurs

Engine Shed is pleased to support TechSPARK’s ‘Spark Up School’, a project designed to help entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to launch businesses in the digital sector. To fund the project, TechSpark has applied for a grant, and the bid has been shortlisted by the Natwest Skills and Opportunities Fund.

The people’s vote is open throughout November with the winner of the fund announced on 6th December. Voting only takes a moment, and will help prove the need for more projects like ‘Spark Up School’ in the area, so please support the project with your vote, here.

The grant will help to connect diverse communities with bespoke support to help people transform their ideas into businesses. The aim is to unlock the potential of entrepreneurs across the city region, which is currently dominated by white, middle class males. Initially, the funding will be used to help 60 people to turn their brilliant business ideas into a reality.

Bristol’s communities speak 93 languages and the city has been named one of the UK’s top tech hubs. Yet studies show that women are half as likely to launch a business, and despite a 22% BME population in the UK, the start up community is struggling to draw in non-white founders. Spark Up School will provide an in-depth programme that will arm potential business leaders with the tools they need to launch and grow their companies.

Nick Sturge, Director of Engine Shed, said:

“Technology is playing a vital role in the future of our economy, and to support the demands of this ever-evolving industry, we need a diverse workforce that can add competitiveness to this burgeoning sector. By increasing the presence of business support in diverse communities, Spark Up School will work, alongside existing local programmes, for the long-term to encourage entrepreneurs, and inspire young people to follow careers in tech, where adults from their demographics are currently under-represented.”

Ben Shorrock, Managing Director of TechSPARK, said:

“Bristol & Bath is an amazing, diverse, place but at the moment the start-up ecosystem doesn’t reflect that. Engine Shed, SETsquared Bristol, and Oracle are globally recognised as phenomenally successful in helping businesses develop so this is a fantastic opportunity to bring together our networks, expertise, and passion to connect with diverse founders and help them excel.”

The grant is now up for public vote throughout November with the winner announced at the beginning of December. Vote for Spark Up School here!