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

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