By Daniel Hunter

Keele University Science and Business Park (KUSBP) is recruiting for the next tranche of companies to join its dedicated business growth programme at the Nova Centre.

Following the success of two businesses that have expanded out of the centre, KUSBP is inviting businesses to submit applications to join the dedicated two-year enterprise programme, which provides crucial support and low cost commercial space to fledging businesses in the early stages of operation. Based at a converted farmhouse on Keele University campus, the Nova Centre can house up to eight businesses at any one time and will shortly have capacity for three new businesses to join the scheme.

Businesses interested in becoming Nova Centre tenants can apply online and successful applicants will be invited to present in front of a steering group panel on 7 October. Panel members include David Webster, CEO of the Hanley Economic Building Society; Professor Mark Ormerod, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Keele University; Jenny Tucker, Science Park Director and Lucy Delaney, Business Development Manager at KUSBP.

In addition to recruiting for new businesses, KUSBP has also this month welcomed pharmaceutical company, Dimec, to the Nova Centre. Set up by Keele pharmacy graduates, Andrew Bailey and Chris Turner, Dimec is a healthcare solutions and technology specialist.

The idea for the company was founded by the pair while they were still working towards becoming qualified pharmacists. Andrew had been accepted onto the Keele SPEED WM enterprise programme, which provides budding entrepreneurs with funding and support to get their business ideas off the ground. Through the SPEED initiative, Andrew launched his own website and set the wheels in motion to develop an innovative pharmacy dispensing business. It was then that Andrew met with Chris and the idea for Dimec was born at a motorway services half way between their homes in Birmingham and Nottingham.

After applying for a space in the Nova Centre, Andrew and Chris are now combining their clinical and commercial pharmacy expertise to develop a new smartphone app, which they hope will revolutionise healthcare delivery. Already in discussions with investors, the directors expect Dimec profits to increase dramatically in the next 12 months.

Andrew comments: “Chris and I have known each other since our undergraduate years at Keele and have always had a taste for business. After starting out on my own with funding from the SPEED programme, I started working full time at a hospital to provide myself with additional financial support and the business got side-lined. It wasn’t until I met with Chris that we struck on the idea that is now Dimec and decided to apply for a space in the Nova Centre.

“We’ve only been here a few weeks, but we’ve already experienced a fantastic atmosphere between the companies in the Nova Centre. The team at KUSBP have been so supportive and moving into the Centre has really given us a renewed sense of confidence in our business venture. In addition to having access to business support, Keele is the perfect place for us to be located with access to the pharmacy and medicine expertise across the University. We’re now focused and looking forward to the year ahead.”

Aimed at helping fledgling companies achieve sustainable growth, the Nova Centre programme offers support and tailored advice on topics ranging from sales and marketing to HR, finance performance and strategy, as well as opportunities to network. Members of the professional services business community including accountants, solicitors and marketers, have also pledged to give their time for free to help move these businesses in the right direction.

The centre was officially opening by business secretary, Vince Cable, in 2012 and has since supported more than nine businesses.

Lucy Delaney, Business Development Manager at KUSBP, added: “We’d like to offer a huge welcome to Dimec. Andrew and Chris are the perfect example of an innovative business that has already got off the ground and is now looking for the guidance and commercial support to take their business to the next level.

“We hope that their success inspires other companies with similar enthusiasm and ambition to apply for a space in the Nova Centre in the coming weeks. The programme offers an unprecedented opportunity for young businesses in the region and we’ve already received a number of innovative applications and are looking forward to seeing these businesses present in October.”

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