By Daniel Hunter

School for Creative Startups is calling on Kent’s aspiring entrepreneurs to apply for a place on its education and support programme, designed to help creative entrepreneurs get their business idea off the ground.

Normally costing participants £3,500 each, Kent County Council is fully funding 100 places on this Folkestone-based programme for Kent County residents, local business owners, or those intending to start a business based in Kent.

The Creative Foundation, an independent arts charity dedicated to regenerating the local region, has agreed to generously host School for Creative Startups in Kent throughout the duration of the programme.

The move is part of an overarching plan to support Kent’s vibrant cultural scene as well as encourage economic growth in the county, which already boasts 4,000 employees at 1,190 creative businesses.

Launched by serial entrepreneur Doug Richard in 2010, the London-based School for Creative Startups has helped launch hundreds of successful businesses. By partnering with Kent County Council to create the first School for Creative Startups in Kent, local authorities hope to set up 100 potential start-ups by May 2014.

Doug Richard, Founder, School for Creative Startups: “By backing its creative talent, Kent County Council is unlocking the county’s potential to be at the heart of British innovation and entrepreneurship, and we encourage Kent residents to apply.

“It’s great to see local government putting its money where its mouth is and pledging support for the start-ups that are leading the UK’s economic recovery.

“The UK is the Silicon Valley for the creative industries and nowhere else in the world do we have the same concentration of creative talent, but we must nurture it and help it to become a viable and self-sustainable sector.”

Susanna Paisley, Kent resident, School for Creative Startups alumni and Survival Arts co-founder: "There are many people out there who take great pleasure in the creative process, but don't know how to make their skills work for them by setting up a creative business.

"School for Creative Startups provided a high-octane boost to my confidence and empowered me to move forward — my business partner and I have already recommended it to many of our friends."

Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Kent County Council: “This partnership will play an important role in bolstering our county’s creative economy, helping to increase the number of Kent-based businesses, as well as ensuring that we become a welcoming host to a burgeoning creative workforce.

“It’s well established that creative industries play a significant role in regenerating local economies, and in School for Creative Startups we have a world-class partner that has helped create nearly 250 businesses since 2010.

“This investment reflects KCC’s ambition for the county. We want nothing less than for Kent to become the UK’s creative hub and I am delighted that we are making such a firm commitment to supporting Kent’s entrepreneurial talent.”

With a practical approach, this eight month, adult education course tackles a skills gap by equipping students with the business and commercial acumen not traditionally covered on creative courses.

Through a range of intensive bootcamps, workshops, one-to-one sessions and with access to a massive online community resource, aspiring creative entrepreneurs will learn how to brand, market and sell their products and services effectively. Given the flexibility of the course schedule, participants can still work their day jobs while staying focused on their goal of starting their own business.

The programme is delivered by sector experts with participants also being given access to a network of industry-specific advisors, including photographer Rankin, Harvey Nichols Fashion Director Paula Reed, gastronome, Loyd Grossman and fashion designer Sir Paul Smith. Participants "launch" their businesses to potential investors, press, buyers, and public at the annual Startup Showcase, which concludes the course in May.

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