Falkirk council has teamed up with Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley and BP Amoco to form an incubator fund for start-up Internet, IT and e-business companies.
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To this end, it is running a competition in which entrants can win a £10,000 prize, office accommodation and a business support package. Up to a dozen runners-up will also receive office accommodation and the business support package.
To house the start-ups, the council has made available a dedicated wing of the recently refurbished Grangemouth Enterprise Centre. The companies will be provided with IT equipment including PCs, servers and Internet access, as well as being given business advice.
The incubator is part of a series of initiatives called Enterprising Falkirk. The programme is intended to "actively involve the local community in a partnership that will foster an enterprise and community spirit that will lead to sustainable business and social benefits for the area".
Enterprising Falkirk is the brainchild of programme manager Ian Jenson. "We are keen to attract companies that can provide IT or e-business solutions to other companies in the Grangemouth area," he says. "It should appeal to firms in the central belt of Scotland."
The competition has been running for several weeks, with information appearing in local newspapers and on the radio. Potential entrants still have another couple of weeks to get involved. "So far, interest has mainly been from dotcoms," says Jenson. "But we do want more entrants from the IT end - companies providing training, consultancy, networking, applications and Web front-ends."
A panel of representatives from the three organisations sponsoring the initiative will judge the entries. They will be looking at the clarity of the vision, the proponents' motivation to achieve it and how good the idea is. Jenson says winners will be chosen to create "a complementary cluster of well focused entrepreneurs".
The £10,000 prize is a one-off to kick-start the incubator. But after the initial competition, companies will be encouraged to apply at any time. Jenson hopes that as the start-ups grow they will move out of the council building, thus making space for the next generation of firms.
Details about the competition can be found at efalkirk.com
Facilities offered to start-ups