Ignite programme
Rebecca Wayman

Ignite accelerator programme set to boost local entrepreneurship with help of Northstar Ventures

Startup support provider, Ignite has returned to the North East and a cohort of entrepreneurs for its latest accelerator programme.

Working alongside Northstar Ventures and the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, Ignite has headed back to Newcastle, where it started in 2011, delivering a new programme for regional startups.

Gabriela Matic, Ignite’s programme director, said: “It’s our first programme in three years in Newcastle, and we’ve had a fantastic welcome back to the region.

“We have been delighted with the quality and diversity of great entrepreneurs and innovators who’ve now joined the programme.

“All of the new businesses we’re working with call the North East home, with one even relocating internationally to join us, 40 per cent are female founded and our founders range in age from early 20s through to mid 60s.

“It’s a great cohort ,  and they are developing some amazing ideas!”

The entrepreneurs on the current Ignite pre-accelerator programme include James Allen, 37, from Newcastle, who is developing a healthcare app based on his own experience of living with inflammatory arthritis since the age of 17.

He explained: “For many years after my diagnosis, I was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. However, the symptoms and pain got progressively worse until I couldn’t even sit through my lectures at university.

“It took some time to find different drugs that made a real difference and meant I was able to get on with my life.

“Unfortunately, this too was short term and the drugs started becoming less effective to the point where I found myself absolutely debilitated when I was in my 20s, unable to work, look after myself or even leave the house.

“During the worst year, I started doing my own research and trying out lots of different things - everything from changes in my diet, to different exercises, to meditation.

“I needed something to track what I was doing against the changes I was making to see what if any difference it made - and there wasn’t anything out there that was easy to use.”

Using his experience as a developer, James has created his own tracking device on a smartwatch called Sidekick, an app to input data like food, movement, and symptoms, so users can keep records of how they feel and what they are doing.

To support the app, James is launching a new podcast, ‘Everyday Superheroes’ where he will talk to others living with chronic conditions and pain to share their experiences.

The 20 startups currently on Ignite’s pre-accelerator are said to benefit from supporting each other, as well as having access and information from national and international mentors, entrepreneurs and investors.

The businesses are also fast-tracked to the final interview stage of the new accelerator programme, beginning in February 2019.

The accelerator is a six-month remote programme that features £25k net (equity) investment from Northstar Ventures and Accelerated Digital Ventures, £100k+ in programme perks with partners (who include Amazon, Stripe, Revolut and many more), mentoring and startup support and much more.

You can apply if you are a founding team of two or more, working full-time on your startup, and need help scaling and potentially raising further investment.

Alasdair Greig, director of Northstar Ventures, added: “We are delighted to see such passionate entrepreneurs and fantastic ideas on Ignite’s pre-accelerator.

“We felt there was a growing need for this kind of programme here in the North East and are very pleased to be working with Ignite on something that is going to bring so much benefit to the region as well as individual startups.

“I look forward to watching them progress.”

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