Starting a business in Sheffield: IN-PART

Colloboration start-up IN-PART provides its take on Sheffield's start-up support and "long heritage of fostering businesses"...

Company name: IN-PART
Founders: Patrick Speedie and Dr Robin Knight
Founded: 2014
Description:An online collaboration platform that works with universities and research institutes to create innovative partnerships with companies of all sizes, based on a variety of early stage technologies – ranging from cancer therapies and medical devices, to software and materials.
Website: www.in-part.co.uk

What’s great about starting a business in Sheffield?

The city has a real diversity and range of businesses based here, from creative media companies to large engineering companies which Sheffield has a long heritage of fostering. It also has a vibrant art and community scene, which brings together such a range of expertise and cultures to one place.

 

What business support in Sheffield have you used? How was it?

As a postgraduate from the University of Sheffield we received great support from the University of Sheffield Enterprise Centre (USE), which provided not only office space, but access to legal advice and accounting. It also has various workshops and talks for new start-ups as well as a community to get involved in locally.

The University of Sheffield as a whole is also a great resource to have so close by. We recently advertised for our upcoming internships around a number of the graduate and masters courses and received an overwhelming number of high quality applications.

Name the top three reasons to start a business in Sheffield:

  1. Sheffield is a great place to live, it has a really balance of city life with access to the peak district. It has a wealth of creative practice across the city and people who are passionate about driving them forward, which has lead to amazing city centric events like Tramlines Festival and the recent Festival of the Mind.
  2. The university is also a great pull, it’s top 10 in the UK and well ranked internationally, and has such a range of talents to be accessed and a real culture of innovation.
  3. It would be remiss not to mention the beer! Sheffield has probably some of the best beer going in the UK, people travel here, not just for the Peak District, but to come to the pubs, and there are some amazing ones. Many a new idea has been hatched over a top quality ale.

Where could Sheffield be better / what does it need?

The support network for start-ups is really still at the development stage, so could be better. Access to office space and advice is something you really have to seek out actively yourself, and there is no one place or source you can refer to. That is beginning to change with start up initiatives like Dot Forge, but for those start ups (like us) that don’t want, or need, to be on an accelerator programme the community is less developed than say London, but …we’ll get there!

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

It’s probably the most difficult thing. A lot of people when they advise you how to start a business, even mentors, will say ‘can you self fund at the start’. Unless you have a trust fund or can borrow money (and are happy to do that) it really makes it a big hurdle for people.

There are investment competitions you can apply for like Venturefest, that don’t have to be in your city, where you can pitch to investors, there are places that offer small amounts of funding to get your started, i.e. get business cards printed and perhaps a basic website built. Places like USE, which you can make use of up to five years after you’ve graduated, have that sort of funding.

Where do you go to network in Sheffield?

There are numerous events like Startup Weekend which runs several times a year, where you get can involved in new start ups as team members, or pitch your ideas to build a team and meet like minded and skilled people.

The MADE Entrepreneurs Festival is an amazing event that was really big this year. It has everything from talks from ex Dragons’ Den investors to co-founder dating and meeting experts at the Entrepreneurs pub, where you can chew the ears off people who have started and are successfully running their own businesses.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch or meeting?

Tamper, a New Zealand coffee house, have the best coffee and great sandwiches, but for something more formal we take clients to the Milestone. It is near the old Kelham Island brewery, and was on Gordon Ramsey’s Best of British and has great local food. If you have an allotment you can take down your goodies down there and trade them in for food and drink vouchers, which is also really cool (we need to get an allotment!).

Where’s great for a company night out?

Tough one as there’s so many great options. We now have a new BrewDog pub which has amazing beer and a selection of five different types of scotch egg (which are amazing), so that is always on the shortlist as are several other nearby places on Division Street. However, the Hallamshire House is a really small pub run by Thornbridge Brewery and probably our favourite place to celebrate our successes with some top quality ales!

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