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Business Advantage Awards 2017 now open


Applications are now open for the Business Advantage Awards 2017, a business support scheme offering up to £5,000 worth of legal and mentoring support to businesses from Leeds Beckett University and solicitors Lupton Fawcett.

Dan McCormack and Zainah Kahn

Now in their third year, the Business Advantage Awards are open to students and graduates of Leeds Beckett (within five years of graduation) as well as clients of the University’s Enterprise and Innovation Hub, which also includes the Digital Hub and Creative, Fashion and Textile Hub.

Five Business Advantage Awards will be presented, with each award providing up to 50 hours of mentoring and/or legal support. Award winners will also have access to one-to-one enterprise mentoring support from a solicitor with expertise in fields including IP protection, taxation, employment terms, and premises legal support.

To apply, applicants are asked to complete an application form available here to the Enterprise and Innovation Hub by the deadline of Tuesday 14 February 2017. Shortlisted applicants will then be asked to give a 10-minute presentation on their business to a panel on 1 March 2017.

After the awards have been presented, support will commence for a period of 12 months from March 2017.

For more information, please contact the Enterprise and Innovation Hub at eiahub@leedsbeckett.ac.uk by email or on 0113 281 6770.

One of last year’s award winners, Zainah Khan (pictured top with Dan McCormack at Lupton Fawcett), completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Leeds Beckett in May 2016 and launched her private therapy practice and corporate mental strength training programme in July. Zainah's business, Chakra Corporate Mental Strength Ltd, is designed to increase resilience to stress and destigmatise mental health issues in corporate workplaces using psychotherapy tools.

Zainah Khan

Zainah said: “Receiving the award has been of huge significance in relation to the progress of Chakra Corporate Mental Strength Ltd. Primarily, the award money has been massively useful in understanding and working through the legal issues involved with the business. Aside from registering the business as a Limited Company, I have been able to gain understanding of trademarking and completed the terms of business for my clients, including legalities involved with my website. This would have been costly and time-consuming had I done it without the support of Lupton Fawcett.

“My mentor, Jonathan Oxley, arranged for me to present Chakra's stress-resilience programme to their Director-level staff which was a wonderful experience and very rewarding. The feedback gained from this was very positive and gave me a huge boost of confidence to secure more work in the future with other clients. Jonathan has also done a video testimonial for me following the session and I will soon put this up on the website.

“The award included being invited to join the 99 Club within the Institute of Directors and attending high-profile events, including Brexit debates, the Annual Dinner at Rudding Park in November and their Annual Convention in September. During the Annual Convention at the Royal Albert Hall, I was chosen to pose a question to Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for Business. This was great publicity for my business and caused many attendees to come and speak to me about the work that Chakra does.

“I have secured my first big contract to deliver training to 20 delegates for a large corporate firm in Yorkshire. This will begin in mid-December and I am very excited. I have also recruited a Commercial Director and Director of Innovation, as well as a private accountant. I have built Chakra's website myself (quite an achievement for a self-confessed technophobe) and, in September, I ran Chakra's 30 Days of Mental Strength project which involved daily tools and techniques for managing positive mental health throughout one of the most stressful months of the year. This was promoted on a blog on the website, as well as on Chakra's Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. 30 Days of Mental Strength generated lots of interest and support. I had had the idea for this for a long time and it was brilliant to see it materialise.”

Phil Netherton

Phil Netherton, also won a 2016 Business Advantage Award for his online tour operator business, Euroventure. Euroventure puts together set routes or customised packages for European rail holidays with rail and accommodation for young people aged 18-24 as well as catering for more experienced travellers up to retirement age.

Phil explained: “Since earning the award, we have moved to new offices at Whitehall Road and we are currently recruiting for January to almost double our team size: from four to seven; and extending our opening hours until 8pm, seven days a week. This will help us to reach our ambitious growth target of tripling turnover to £1.5 million in 2017.

“Having access to free legal services during a high growth phase is really important. As we grow, the need to protect our business is higher in line with higher risk, but it also comes at a time when that growth needs to be funded. This means that, without the support, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to allocate resources to the work that Lupton Fawcett have been busy carrying out for us – terms and conditions, supplier contracts and intellectual property.”

The Euroventure team
The Euroventure team

Fran Parkinson, Operations Manager at the Enterprise and Innovation Hub, said: “We are really grateful to Lupton Fawcett Solicitors for their wonderful support for our Enterprise and Innovation Hub clients. The mentoring and legal support they provide through the Business Advantage Awards has made an enormous difference to the growth and success of the companies we work with.  We are delighted that they have agreed to continue the support into a third year and look forward to working with them to judge our next round of applicants.”

Jonathan Oxley, Director at Lupton Fawcett’s Leeds-based corporate team and Mentor for the scheme, added: “We are proud to be into our third year of sponsorship of the Leeds Beckett Business Advantage Awards. The University is developing a great track record of mentoring and launching innovative and creative new businesses and we are delighted to be able to play our part in supporting them. Great quality legal advice is something many early stage businesses have difficulty accessing and we are able to make it available through these awards. These are the types of businesses that will play a key role in the future success of the economy and it is important that they be given the best support in the early stages of growth.”

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