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Global competition opens now: startups to benefit from new business bootcamp

From 28th January, dotforge accelerator, Sheffield’s new programme to fast-track high growth startups, is looking to attract a range of startup businesses to the city.  The accelerator programme is backed by a group of Yorkshire private investors and Creative England, who bring capital through the government’s Regional Growth Fund.

From today, dotforge accelerator, Sheffield's new programme to fast-track high growth startups, is looking to attract a range of startup businesses to the city. The accelerator programme is backed by a group of Yorkshire private investors and Creative England, who bring capital through the government's Regional Growth Fund.

Startups accepted onto the dotforge programme will get up to £25,000 cash per founder and access to over £150,000 follow-on funding. Additional benefits include nearly $300k of perks and deals, free office accommodation and exposure to world-class mentors, investors and specialists to help accelerate business.

Businesses that are successful in getting onto the programme will benefit from both smart investment capital and a ‘bootcamp' process that aims to develop and deliver new, robust, globally-connected business.

Applications are invited from anywhere in the world to compete for a place on dotforge, which will run from Sheffield, UK. The programme aims to attract the very best ideas and creative talent across a range of sectors and markets. The programme is particularly interested in startups developing B2B products and services, or those that generate or are powered by big data. Businesses operating in the region's high-growth industries (such as e-learning and e-health) will also benefit from strong industry networks.

The dotforge programme is partnering with F6S - the leading global community for startups - to fast-track participating companies through the Young Entrepreneur Loan scheme for up to £20,000 per founder. This provides the ideal gap funding for companies exiting the programme that need time to finalise and secure seedcorn investment. On top of the funding, the F6S co-founder, serial entrepreneur and business growth junkie Sean Kane, is joining a pool of world-class entrepreneurs, investors and technical specialists providing 1-to-1 mentoring for the dotforge startups.
Dotforge is offering successful graduating companies a critical leg up with over £150,000 of potential follow-on investment via exclusive partnerships with Finance Yorkshire and Sheffield City Region LEP.

The team at Finance Yorkshire Seedcorn Fund will be on hand to assist in the mentoring program, offering invaluable advice on investment options including their own funds. Companies showing exceptional promise and establishing revenue streams will be eligible to apply for the Seedcorn Fund's convertible TELs (Technology Entrepreneur Loans). The application and assessment process will be streamlined for companies successfully exiting dotforge.

Companies will also be supported to develop applications for £50,000 or more to the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership's Unlocking Business Investment programme. This Regional Growth Fund programme offers unsecured funding to support companies with robust plans for growth located in the Sheffield City Region.

Note: The closing date for applications is 12pm Monday 25th February. To apply, all interested parties should go to: www.dotforgeaccelerator.com 

JON BRADFORD, who since launching Europe's first accelerator has helped to start 12 multi-company accelerators from Montreal to Moscow, commented: "Startups are usually drawn to capital cities, but Sheffield UK is poised to be one of the world's top startup destinations, especially for cloud-powered businesses. dotforge is just one part of the organic startup ecosystem that's taking shape up there. It's more like the city as an accelerator, they're building Europe's startup engine room. Definitely worth a second look."

Director of Business Investment at Creative England JIM FARMERY said: "This is precisely the kind of project we are keen to be investing in. With backing from the Sheffield LEP and an agency such as ourselves, the mix of local knowledge and national reach, we believe, is going to be a winning formula. We sincerely hope that startup businesses grab this terrific opportunity with both hands."
Managing Director of Ask4 and investor in dotforge JONATHAN BURROWS: "When starting a business one of the most valuable things as a new entrepreneur is having someone with more experience around to learn from and to guide you when meeting new challenges. This is an exciting opportunity to work with a range of entrepreneurs, help build some new businesses and hopefully deliver some profitable new companies."

dotforge is supported by the Sheffield City Region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as part of the CloudCity programme to transform the way that economic growth strategy is devised and delivered for the 21st century. It is part funded by £125k private investment from a group of local investors who will invest directly into 8 startups, for which the investors will share a 6% shareholding across the portfolio. dotforge has also attracted £125k of match funding from Creative England. Investors are free to make further investments, individually or in syndicate, in participating companies at the end of the programme.

The programme has been established to overcome the significant obstacles new businesses face in terms of finance and commercial expertise. dotforge provides mentoring, business and product development support and introductions alongside ‘smart money' - pre-seed capital representing greater value to these early stage businesses than cash alone. This approach has been successfully developed in the US by Y Combinator and TechStars and is known as a ‘pre-seed accelerator programme.'

For further details contact:

Paul Smith, Head of Communications, Creative England, 07554 423265, paul.smith@creativeengland.co.uk 
or Michelle Gould, Press and External Relations Manager, Creative England, 07885 969634, michelle.gould@creativeengland.co.uk


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