Lancashire's creative forum win new EU funding

Lancashire Forum Creative , left to right, Juliane Lowe, Laurie Smith, Elena Vasilieva
Lancashire Forum Creative , left to right, Juliane Lowe, Laurie Smith, Elena Vasilieva

Business support initiative the Lancashire Forum Creative has secured extra funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

The collaboration between the University of Central Lancashire and Lancaster University helps small and medium-sized enterprises in the region to grow with the aid of a supportive peer network and a programme of interactive workshops and masterclasses.

UCLan launched the Lancashire Forum Creative programme as part of the Lancashire Forum in 2017 to meet the learning and development needs of the county’s 4,500 creative and digital businesses, which employ 36,000.

The programme is delivered across Lancashire as part of Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub.

It offers business leaders the space to step away from their working environment to develop themselves and their organisations using the latest research and world-class academics from UCLan, plus the practical experience of peers.

The forum helps SMEs to become strategic and innovative in developing new products and increasing profits.

Elena Vasilieva, Lancashire Forum Creative project manager at UCLan, said: “We are situated in the Centre for SME Development and the team has over 25 years’ experience of designing and delivering development programmes tailored to the needs of SMEs. Over the past two years more than 360 businesses have attended the programme’s events and 73 businesses have successfully graduated.”

Michelle Bondesio, founder of Growth Sessions, had support from the programme. She said: “Joining was a total game changer for me. I learned a vast amount through the workshops and from other attendees and it increased my confidence in my own skills and abilities immensely.”

Professor Sue Smith, chairman of UCLan’s Centre for SME Development, said: “Following an initial successful period, we’re thrilled to be given the chance to continue providing this support to even more creative and digital SMEs who are in a position to benefit from the programme.

"It’s a valuable opportunity for small business owners and leaders to collaborate and become part of a supportive community."

The extension is not only a mark of success to date, but also demonstrates how important it has been to the county’s economic development, in addition to the creative and digital sector as a whole.”

The Lancashire Forum Creative is now recruiting for the upcoming six-month programme, which starts on May 9 with an induction event and Lego Serious Play Think Tank.

For more information about the Lancashire Forum Creative visit:https://www.uclan.ac.uk/business_at_uclan/lancashire-forum-creative.php