Budding entrepreneurs in the Leeds City Region are being offered a helping hand with a new free business support programme.

Founders Forge is aimed at people who have an idea and passion for a new business, and want guidance to set them on their way.

The programme, which is being run by a team based at Leeds Beckett University, will be made up of a mixture of online learning, live webinars, one-to-one telephone support and access to experts, including investors.

George Lancaster, from the University Business Centre, who is leading the programme, said: “Many people are considering starting their own business right now. It could be the impact of the pandemic that has led people to re-evaluate their futures. Whatever the reason, we know having a firm foundation means a business is more likely to be a success in the longer term.

“Founders Forge is an engaging, accessible and easy to navigate programme that will help our aspiring founders to forge a great idea into a viable business.”

There are only 25 places on Founders Forge, with assessments for suitability taking place this month. In March successful candidates will have an initial detailed diagnostic assessment to help define goals and will then have access to support until July.

The programme will cover topics including the practicalities of how to set up a business, what structure to make it, how to explore market opportunities, understanding the customer and understanding your products and pricing.

Founders Forge is part of the AD:VENTURE programme, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

AD:VENTURE has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals, and provided more than £1.7m in grant funding since its launch at the end of 2016.

Funding and delivery partners are across the Leeds City Region, and include the region’s nine local authorities, the Business Enterprise Fund, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

There are eligibility criteria and some sectors, including retail, are not eligible, but among the companies that have been given support are those offering training, HR support, digital and design services, specialist manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and electrical services.

For more information about Founders Forge go to: https://ad-venture.org.uk/founders-forge/