Make It York News

Make It York joins forces with York Science Park to inspire business growth in challenging times

Make It York has teamed up with York Science Park to host a weekly online business support forum to support York-based science and tech businesses impacted by COVID-19, and to look ahead to the future through the recovery period and beyond.

The sessions, which have been taking place since May, have so far helped 19 businesses answer their COVID-19 and business related questions. The sessions have been led by Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager from Make It York, supported by Jane Coope, Head of HR Services at Bridge Employment Law and Mini Setty, Employment Partner at Langleys, with a range of York-based experts from financial, tax and telemarketing firms to answer any specific questions. So far the topics covered have included the government furlough scheme, available COVID-19 support, marketing, start-up support, business development and tax relief. The sessions have also offered valuable virtual networking opportunities with the use of Zoom breakout rooms.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York, said ‘This is one of a series of events we have delivered to support and connect businesses across York.  These events offer invaluable knowledge sharing opportunities as well as giving us a timely reminder of our sectoral strengths and how we can work together as a city in this challenging recovery period.’

Now taking a summer break, the sessions are set to continue from 2 September, becoming a permanent fixture in the business networking calendar.  

Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, explained the thinking behind the sessions, ‘Throughout this difficult period for businesses, I saw extensively the positive impact that peer to peer sessions were having on businesses feeling isolated during lockdown or who have been experiencing unprecedented changes to how their business operates. With a collection of 130 businesses, I felt this was something that could be of benefit to the York Science Park tenants.

The forum offers tailored access to business support, networking opportunities and invaluable signposting to additional funding and support, as well as further, one-to-one targeted support where appropriate. It is great that there is a real appetite from the businesses to now operate the sessions on a more permanent basis and this will be a mix of virtual meetings and face to face when this option becomes available.  I’d urge any business who hasn’t come to the sessions to sign up and come along in September.’

Claire Bennett, General Manager of York Science Park said “We were thrilled to be able to offer these sessions to our residents. We had already taken measures like introducing a rent freeze to help support them but these forums have given them access to free, expert advice on a huge range of topics. It’s been very positive to see how many residents have responded to these invites and taken advantage of this opportunity.

No sector is exempt from the impacts of COVID-19 and the lockdown, and with so many of our residents being start-ups and SMEs we knew they might need more guidance than more established companies. We’re extremely grateful to Make It York for their help in facilitating these forums.” 

There has been some great feedback from participants attending the forum:

Dr Nicholas Merriam of GLIWA Ltd, based in The Catalyst, explained the benefits of taking part in the forums saying they “provide a time-efficient way to obtain distilled legal and HR advice, as well as allowing Science Park residents to raise questions and share experiences at a time when more traditional channels are not functioning.”

Jo Wilson, Managing Director of NBD Rocks! in the Innovation Centre said “having only just moved into the Innovation Centre three weeks before we had to move out again, this weekly meeting is great to get to know the other residents, share ideas, knowledge, concerns and challenges. The sense of camaraderie is continuing!”.

“In these unknown & testing times communication and collaboration are key for me. That’s why these sessions are really helpful” explained Pritpal Rehal, whose business SplashBy is based in the Phase One incubator in The Catalyst. 

Sessions will resume from Wednesday 2 September, 9am.  Businesses interested in joining the forum should contact Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York

Notes to editor

* In partnership with Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Louise as Business Growth Manager works with SMEs to identify business needs and to deliver a programme of business support from Make It York, the LEP and partners. The role is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). See below.

Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. The company’s remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.

One of Make It York’s strategic aims is to promote York as a brilliant place to do business, helping to support business growth and innovation across a range of business sectors, such as financial & professional services, rail and high value manufacturing and to stimulate greater inward investment.

York Science Park

An entrepreneurial ecosystem at the heart of the University of York.

Established in 1991, York Science Park has supported more than 400 budding start-ups, spin-outs and entrepreneurs to grow their business. They provide high-quality, serviced office and laboratory space, along with virtual offices and hot-desking facilities. Residents benefit from unprecedented levels of access to the University of York facilities, research, staff and students.

The team at York Science Park also provide residents with business support, guidance and access to a host of experienced, professional trusted advisors.

The Science Park offering includes offices and laboratories across the Innovation Centre, Bio Centre, IT Centre, Enterprise House and The Catalyst. Within these spaces they also offer start-ups the chance to develop and grow through the Springboard programme, and their new incubator programme – Phase One.

For more information about York Science Park, please contact Catherine Conolly

European Regional Growth Fund (ERDF)

The Business Growth Manager role is funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community.

Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership works with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to help businesses in our region grow and become more productive.

The Combined Authority works in partnership with local councils and businesses to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from a strong, successful economy and a modern, accessible transport network. By championing the region’s interests nationally and internationally, we secure the investment to deliver better transport and housing, help businesses to grow and create jobs. 

We want our region to be recognised globally as a strong, successful economy where everyone can build great businesses, careers and lives. For more information visit

Region’s leaders unite in momentous demonstration of support of York as a new government hub

Leaders from across the region’s businesses, public bodies and organisations have come together to send the below open letter to the Government demonstrating the overwhelming support for a new Government Hub to be based in the city.

The letter summarises the unique position of York as the ideal location for a second city of Government – combining excellent connectivity and burgeoning ‘new economy’ businesses looking to grow, alongside the available York Central site.

The letter has been signed by key business leaders and organisations from across the city, including Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, Dame Mary Archer DBE, Chair of York Central Partnership and both of York’s MPs, Rachael Maskell and Julian Sturdy. 

The letter calls for further detailed discussions with Government to discuss planned proposals and take the opportunity forward – highlighting the huge support from both York’s business community and residents for a move which would be transformative for the city.

The letter is included in full below:   

York as a New Hub of Government

We are writing in response to the Prime Minister’s request to Whitehall that it submits proposals to relocate certain government departments out of London, his confirmation that he would like to see a Government Hub in York, and the possibility of moving the Houses of Parliament to York during the renovation of the Palace of Westminster.

We would like to express our strong support for any such move, which we believe would have overwhelming public support especially in York and the surrounding region, would play a major role in delivering the government’s national levelling-up agenda, and would be a very significant economic boost for the North.

We also believe York has the ideal available site, in York Central. York Central is a 46-hectare brownfield site, the same size as the Kings Cross development. It is currently largely in the ownership of Network Rail and Homes England, and is immediately adjacent to York Station, itself just 1hr 48 minutes from Kings Cross. It is one of the largest such sites in England and its strategic importance has been recognised with the award of Enterprise Zone status. The economic impact of the York Central development was originally estimated at £1.16bn in additional GVA. We believe it will be very significantly higher than that now. The Allies and Morrison Masterplan has secured outline Planning approval, and the required £155m infrastructure funding is approved and now only awaiting the detailed accessing information from Treasury. In short, it is ready to go.

As well as the direct economic impact of any significant move of central government facilities, such a move would be transformational both economically and in terms of public perception.

The unlocking of the York Central site would allow sufficient space, alongside government offices, for York’s burgeoning Creative Tech and Biotech sectors to expand. York is already home to the Quantum Communications Hub, a collaboration between leading research universities, private sector companies, and the public sector focussed on the (highly topical) commercialisation of secure communications technologies. The University of York also hosts the Institute of Safe Autonomy which is developing autonomous technologies for both land and air vehicles. Both these “future economy” Tech sectors need the business space and facilities York Central can provide if they are to maximise their huge potential for UK Plc.

Additionally, York is home to a rail innovation community with a growing reputation for innovation and the city has an unrivalled breadth and depth of rail expertise with over 5,500 employees and 100 rail related companies represented in the city.

York has a growing Biotech economy in which it has genuine global strengths and enormous growth potential. With all the benefits that come from the short lines of communication in a city the size of York, the key players: amongst many others, the University of York, FERA Science, and the sector’s (largely) SME businesses themselves, can build an R&D, and economic and supply chain ecosystem which, with the right combination of facilities, will deliver a pipeline of new Biotech businesses and the space for them to grow from initial concept stage to economically significant commercial scale. Given the nature of many of these businesses, and with their focus on deriving value from biowastes and by-products of agrifood supply chains, and developing high-value chemicals and advanced fuels from plants and microbes, they also further the government’s carbon reduction priorities and the region’s aspirations to become the UK’s first carbon negative location (as part of the ongoing devolution conversation).

Finally, beyond all the historically compelling reasons for York retaking its place as a second city of government, as is evident from the signatories overleaf, a government move to York and the associated unlocking of the York Central site has huge public and business support across the region, for which we are all committed to help support with a positive campaign.

After 50 years of development deadlock, this is the opportunity for the current government to be heralded for making it finally happen!

We would welcome any opportunity to meet to discuss this further, either in London or in York, and can of course provide any further information you might like to see in the meantime.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Aspden, Leader, City of York Council

Dame Mary Archer, DBE, Chair, York Central Partnership

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair, Network Rail & London Legacy Development Corporation

Greg Dyke, Chair, Make It York

David Kerfoot MBE, DL, Chairman, York and North Yorkshire LEP

Roger Marsh OBE, DL, Chair, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership

Professor Charlie Jeffery CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of York

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice-Chancellor, York St John University

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central

Julian Sturdy,MP for York Outer

Dr Andrew Swift,Chief Executive, Fera Science Ltd

Andrew Digwood, President, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Lee Probert, Chief Executive and Principal York College

Tim Whitaker, Chief Executive and Principal Askham Bryan College

Simon Morritt, Chief Executive, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Stephen Lusty, Chair, York Civic Trust

Jonathan Bryant, Secretary & Chief Executive, York Conservation Trust

Carolyn Frank, Development Manager for Federation of Small Businesses North Yorkshire – On behalf of FSB York

Michael Hjort, Chair, York BID

For further information please contact:

Katie Parsons, Corporate Communications Manager


Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager


Notes to editors:

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our four corporate strategic priorities.  These are:

  • City positioning and profile-raising
  • Inward Investment and network building
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy

York thanks key workers with their very own celebration

Key workers in York are being thanked for their extraordinary work during the coronavirus emergency with a week-long Key Workers Celebration which starts on Yorkshire Day, 1 August.

To thank those who work as health or care providers, in the emergency services, local government or education in York, the appreciation of the city is being shown.

An open letter to the city’s key workers has been published thanking them for their extraordinary commitment to the city and inviting them to relax and enjoy a range of discounts and offers.

The offers include free entry to attractions such as York Mansion House, York Art Gallery and York Army Museum and discounts on admission to York’s Chocolate Story, Fairfax House, JORVIK Viking Centre and more – including 25% off all York Pass tickets.  Food and drinks offers are also available at a range of businesses across the city including Hazelwood Castle Hotel, Pairings Wine Bar, The Grand York and Plonkers Wine Bar.

Details of the offers are available at

Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said: “The incredible work and effort of key workers across the city cannot be underestimated and it is important that, as a city, we recognise and thank key workers for keeping our city safe.  That is why, this Yorkshire Day, we are launching a week-long Key Workers Celebration to show the city’s appreciation.

“As part of this celebration, we are putting on a range of discounts and offers for key workers to enjoy, including free entry to attractions such as York Mansion House and York Art Gallery, and food and drinks offers will be available at a range of businesses across the city. All the details of the offers are available at

“You have given our most vulnerable residents the essential support they need during this difficult time and supported countless communities in responding to the pandemic.  I know many residents, businesses and local organisations will join me in thanking you for the work you have done, are doing and will continue to do for our city.”

Greg Dyke, Chair of Make It York, said: “To show our gratitude we want to give something back. That’s why we are working with businesses across the city to come together to offer special key worker discounts.

“Organised by Make It York, the Key Worker Celebration is open to all key workers who live in York. Kicking off on Saturday 1 August – Yorkshire Day – we are looking forward to welcoming key workers into the city centre to enjoy some of the treats on offer.”

The celebration also includes some brand new events including a ‘Wall of Heroes’ on Coppergate. There, York Civic Trust is celebrating those who have given exceptional service to the city, while giving an opportunity for some great selfies and the chance to nominate someone who deserves a plaque.

Another new treat is an exhibition of portraits of NHS workers by local artist Karen Winship at York Art Gallery when it reopens on 1 August with free entry to support the Key Workers Celebration. The 11 works on show depict NHS workers from across England and Ireland painted by Karen, and tell their own personal experiences of working on the front line caring for the victims of the virus.  The stories of those working or volunteering in other essential services during the pandemic will also be told as the gallery invites the public to nominate their own heroes.

Clifford’s Tower will also be illuminated in green and blue throughout the week as part of the celebration to honour the city’s key workers.

Key workers are invited to please check out and choose what they’d like to enjoy from the selection at from Saturday 1 August.

The Key Worker Celebration is open to all key workers who live and work in the City of York. To get involved key workers must present their work ID (ie NHS or City of York Council lanyard) or a key worker letter from their employer.


York’s business community takes active role in planning city recovery

The first wave of a series of virtual ‘roundtables’ made up of all sectors of York’s business community has now concluded – with the insights gained from businesses being used to implement support measures and develop the city’s recovery plans.

Working in partnership, Make It York, York BID, City of York Council, Federation of Small Business, York & North Yorkshire Chamber Of Commerce and the Local Economic Partnership have been holding roundtable meetings with over 120 businesses across the city’s key sectors to gather intelligence and identify the practical support measures needed. Further waves of roundtable events are now scheduled in to build on this initial insight and continue to support businesses over the coming months – with businesses encouraged to get in touch with Make It York to be a part of this.

The twelve sector roundtables were made up of representatives across the city and from the discussions, common themes were identified across the different sectors of the city’s business community. The intelligence gathered has been used to develop and roll out a range of support measures for businesses following this feedback from the first wave of meetings.

The primary area of concern raised across all sectors was around finance and the assistance and support on offer. In response to this the Make It York team have been offering one-on-one guidance sessions with businesses to provide clarification on the support and funding they are eligible to receive. The micro grant and additional extended micro grant scheme launched by City of York Council also supported 1750 small local businesses benefiting from £3.238m of grants to help in times of financial hardship, and aid businesses who missed out under previous schemes.

Another major concern raised by city centre businesses was also around re-opening safely and how to increase consumer confidence in the safety of the city. In response to this City of York Council created a business recovery toolkit pack which went out to 530 businesses – providing guidance on practical measures, posters, stickers and other support resources. Visible signage has also been installed to aid with social distancing and increase public confidence and York BID installed twenty-five hand sanitisers to promote cleanliness in the city.

The prospect of low footfall in the city was also raised as a worry for businesses. To support with boosting footfall, City of York Council implemented a number of measures- including extending the footstreet hours, introducing new car parking incentives to encourage people to visit the city centre and ensuring public toilets were reopened. York BID have also introduced ‘city hosts’ to help provide a friendly face to visitors, providing directions and guidance.

The marketing and promotion of York as a place to visit and do business was similarly raised as an area for continued focus. In response to this City of York Council and Make It York are rolling out a new six-month tourism strategy to promote the strengths of the city and encourage residents and visitors to enjoy the many unique experiences the city has to offer. City of York Council are supporting the campaign with a proposed investment of £100K for targeted marketing activity, which is designed to boost resident and visitor experience , in order to support York’s tourism and leisure industry.

Other key areas of focus for businesses included the need for skills training – with a new online ‘Skills Hub’ being created by City of York Council and Make It York to provide an overview of opportunities available for local businesses by training providers across the country. This includes training on a local, regional and national level with a mix of courses including, free and partly funded opportunities.

Intelligence from the sector roundtables has also been shared with central government to call for more support in crucial areas- including financial support for both the arts and heritage sector and the hospitality industry which are key to York’s economy. The recent business support measures announced by the Chancellor in his Summer Economic Statement included a £1.57bn package of financial support for the arts and heritage sector, a £1,000 new job retention bonus for every returning furloughed staff member, and a discount on eating out during August in an effort to support the UK’s hospitality industry.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said, “The roundtable events have been a great reminder of the fact that we have so many world-class innovative businesses in the city which have been playing a central role in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis.  Whilst there are obvious immediate hurdles that businesses across all sectors face, we have enormous confidence for the region’s economic future. A huge thank you to the businesses who have taken part in the roundtable events so far and shared their insights.” 

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Director for the Economy and Strategic Planning said:

“Supporting York’s businesses has been one of our priorities throughout the pandemic. Officers have worked hard to process over £110m of grants and rate relief for businesses. We also listened to small businesses and the self-employed who did not meet the national criteria and set up a micro business scheme to which additional limited funds from Government were added”

“We have also worked with Make it York to launch the Skills Hub which will give businesses and employees the tools they need to adapt, upskill or simply diversify their skill set throughout these uncertain times.”

“These virtual roundtables are crucial to understanding the challenges being faced by the wide range of business sectors in the city, and those that have fallen outside of Government guidance for whom we will continue to lobby for support. We want to continue this engagement to give local businesses a voice, save jobs and continue the positive partnership that has been created during the pandemic.”

Andrew Digwood, President of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said:  “The York & North Yorkshire Chamber has been pleased to play a role alongside other partners in helping to gather information from York businesses into the city’s economic recovery planning. I have personally found the roundtables to be very informative and useful, and it’s clear that many of the concerns and challenges are shared right across all business sectors. At the same time, however, there is clearly an appetite and a willingness to build a strong economic recovery in York and to learn from this crisis to develop and invest in new ways of working that might in the longer term prove to be positive changes for businesses, their employees and the city.

“When I’ve spoken to participating business owners and leaders outside of the roundtables, I’ve been pleased to hear that many of them have also found the conversations we’ve had to be useful and supportive as they think about plans for the coming months in their own businesses. I hope that we will be able to build from this a solid foundation of support and information that will see our city’s economy weather the crisis and emerge with resilience to seize new opportunities.”

Businesses who are interested in participating in the next wave of roundtable events can contact the Make It York Business team on  

For further information please contact:

Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager


Notes to editors:

About Make It York

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our four corporate strategic priorities.  These are:

  • City positioning and profile-raising
  • Inward Investment and network building
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy

York’s Rugby League World Cup Fixtures Revealed

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 tournament organisers have today (July 21st) revealed the much-anticipated fixture schedule for what promises to be the biggest and best World Cup in the history of the sport, as the men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams all compete at the same time in a major sporting first. Across the city, partners have been working with the Rugby League World Cup team to bring the event to York next year – including City of York Council, York City Knights, Make It York, GLL, York St John University, University of York and Queen Ethelberga’s. 
York will be hosting eight fixtures at the LNER Community Stadium, all in the women’s tournament, starting off with New Zealand vs France. 
The full fixture list for York is as follows: 
New Zealand vs France (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Wednesday 10th November) – 17.00pm 
Australia vs Cook Islands (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Wednesday 10th November) – 19.30pm 
New Zealand vs Cook Islands (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Sunday 14th November) – 17.00pm 
Australia vs France (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Sunday 14th November) – 19.30pm 
France vs Cook Islands (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Thursday 18th November) – 17.00pm 
Australia vs New Zealand (women’s) – LNER Community Stadium (Thursday 18th November) – 19.30pm 
Women’s Semi-Final (Teams TBC) – LNER Community Stadium (Monday 22nd November) – 17.00pm 
Women’s Semi-Final (Teams TBC) – LNER Community Stadium (Monday 22nd November) – 19.30pm 
In June, it was revealed that York will be the team training base for New Zealand’s men and women’s team, as well as the women’s sides from Australia, France and Cook Islands. 
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council: “In York, we are proud to be a host city for the Rugby League World Cup 2021. Today’s fixture announcement is the result of all partners in the city coming together to bring this special sporting event to our incredible city. 
“To have the world champion women’s Australian team playing against New Zealand, the second best team in the world, is massive for our city and will certainly be a great occasion. This is one of many fantastic fixtures taking place in what will be a great few weeks for York. 
Jon Flatman, Chairman, York City Knights said: “It is incredibly exciting to hear that we will be hosting these fantastic games in York next year for the Rugby League World Cup. We will be working with partners across the city to ensure this event creates a long lasting legacy for the sport and the wider community, with resident engagement set to be a key part of the activity. The event will have a huge reach with fans across the world and give York invaluable exposure on the international stage and we are looking forward to welcoming the visiting teams and fans to the city!”  
Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Leisure, Culture and Communities said: “These matches will inspire more people to take up sport as they watch world-class international athletes in the new LNER Community Stadium. Having both semi-finals will be incredible and we hope to see England play and win. 
“We can’t wait to host and watch these fantastic athletes next year and I am sure our residents and communities will get behind these superb events, as they so often do.” 
Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York said: “We are delighted that York will be hosting such a fantastic series of fixtures for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup including the Women’s Semi-Final. The tournament will be a huge boost to the city – showcasing York around the world, getting residents really involved, and attracting thousands of rugby fans to York next year.” 
Jon Dutton, RLWC2021 Chief Executive, said: “This is a huge moment for the tournament and for fans in our host cities and towns as we reveal the full fixture schedule.The tournament has been gaining momentum over recent months and fans can now look forward to being part of this unique global event. With match dates and locations confirmed, the excitement will only intensify. 
“RLWC2021 will bring together the very best that the sport has to offer, and you can see from the schedule that there is no end of world class, not-to-be-missed matches, across all three tournaments. It Is an exciting day for all our Rugby League fans and communities across England who will be proud and brilliant hosts to the travelling nations as together we deliver the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup to date.” 
With 61 fixtures over a six-week period the tournament will showcase a festival of world class sporting action. The dates, venues and kick-off times* for each of the three tournaments is now confirmed and available to view at  
Please visit for more information, for details on how to sign up to receive ticket alerts and all the latest news first.  
Images available for download here: 
For further information please contact:  
Amy Goodman, Consumer Communications Manager 
Ana Ignatova – Communications Executive  


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