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Vale’s entrepreneurs will sparkle with launch of new business initiative and competition

Spark Vale Launch

A unique and exciting business support initiative and competition has been announced for the Vale of White Horse that will see the district’s large number of budding entrepreneurs offered an unprecedented level of free advice combined with an opportunity to win access to a prize fund worth at least £25,000.

Spark Vale is a Vale4Business and Bybox funded business support initiative and competition, run by Oxford Innovation, which has been created to support the Vale’s brightest sparks who are either thinking of starting-up a business or are in business already, but need help to reach the next level.

Councillor Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale Council said: “We are launching Spark Vale to help generate jobs, encourage entrepreneurism and boost the local economy. The initiative provides local entrepreneurs with a range of business support options; including a dedicated website packed with facts sheets, downloadable business tools and training videos, programme of business workshops and one to one business coaching. September sees the launch of a Spark business idea competition which aims to find and provide more intensive business support to the top innovators in the district.”

The competition element of Spark Vale will be open to anyone regardless of whether they are still dreaming of starting-up their own business or are already up and running, ready to employ their first member of staff.

With access to a minimum prize fund of £25,000, the Spark Vale Business Idea Competition will consist of three categories: Best Business Growth Idea, Best New Business Idea Under 25’s and Best New Business Idea Over 25’s.

Stuart Miller, CEO of Bybox said: “We are delighted to be involved in an initiative that goes to extra lengths to really make a difference to the Vale’s up and coming entrepreneurs. Importantly, Spark Vale will also provide current and aspiring business owners with access to a raft of free professional services which will give any entrepreneur a head start and increase the likelihood of turning a business idea into a profitable reality.”

Details will soon be released about a packed schedule of free business support workshops taking place across the Vale from June 2014. Experts have been lined-up to fulfil the overall objective of providing attendees with the know-how, skills and tools necessary to develop a credible business plan and to model how the business will grow.

Jo Willett, Marketing and Business Development Director of Oxford Innovation, said: “This is all about sparking entrepreneurialism and business growth by bringing people with ideas, plans and ambition together with those that want to offer up their experience, resources and expertise to help them get going. Deciding to start a business or to take a growth step with an existing business is a big decision; so Spark also aims to provide a platform from which to test the commercial viability before taking the plunge.”

“The competition will be a fitting finale and enable us to identify the District’s most exciting and potential entrepreneurs in order to target extra support and resources to facilitate their success. We do encourage anyone looking for this type of support to engage with Spark right now so we can really offer the maximum value to your plans.”

Spark Vale will run from May to November 2014 and will include the following:

• A dedicated website www.sparkvale.co.uk Created to act as a one stop shop for people seeking guidance on starting a business and for those with existing businesses, the website will include informative videos, downloadable fact sheets and financial tools in addition to video interviews with experienced business leaders from across the District.

• Business mentoring. In conjunction with Oxford Innovation’s team of business coaches and advisors, business leaders from across the region have signed up to support existing and budding entrepreneurs.

• Workshops and surgeries. From June to October a full programme of events will run across the Vale of White Horse focusing on everything from finding customers, marketing and social media to finance, managing profitable growth and business planning.

• The Spark Vale Business Idea Competition. Three categories will be launched in September 2014 with a total of prize pot currently valued at £25,000. Further details to be released at the launch.

To lend support, sponsor or to find out more information about Spark Vale, visit the newly launched website: www.sparkvale.co.uk