Nine new start-ups join the Cooper Project amid the COVID-19 pandemic
We are thrilled to welcome nine new start-ups to join our incubation programme, the Cooper Project, especially under the current Covid-19 climate. It has been an encouraging and positive sign to see more people becoming entrepreneurs during this challenging time.
Tom Wolfenden, Chief Executive at Sheffield Technology Parks (STP), which runs the Cooper Project, said: “Amongst all of the uncertainty of lockdown, it has been incredibly encouraging to have nine new start-ups join our incubator programme. This affirms our belief that an entrepreneurial mindset will play a crucial role in the City’s recovery over the next months and years.
“Whilst it might not seem it, now is as good a time as any to test your business idea within our supportive community of start-ups.”
The Cooper Project offers a six-month free residency in the Cooper Lounge open to pre-start, pre-revenue and pre-investment businesses operating in the tech and digital sectors.
Each start-up will have the opportunity to get access to business advisors and entrepreneurs-in-residence, as well as being amongst other like-minded people on a similar business journey.
We aim to provide our start-ups with the necessary knowledge and support they need to get their idea off the ground. To do so, we act as “friendly but critical friends” to challenge their assumptions and help them set milestones, action plans and deadlines to progress their business idea.
In order to keep our new start-ups motivated and encouraged during the pandemic, we have been hosting regular online activities which help the new entrepreneurs learn through peer-to-peer support as well as our advisors. These activities include online workshops, group discussions and one-to-ones.
One of our new start-ups is led by Matthew Bate, who, alongside his friends at the University of Sheffield, is creating a mental health and wellbeing app that will first be launched in the university. Commenting on his Cooper Project experience so far, Matthew said: “The Cooper Project offers professional advice and support from mentors that care. They are passionate, driven and excellent at finding out our needs as a start-up and putting them first. Even just over the past two weeks, we've come a long way.”
He continued: “Even through lockdown, Cooper Chats have been held every week. Here, we all meet to discuss and share ideas around a topic. I have never felt more welcome and supported.”
Jasmine Beresford, another one of our new start-ups, is the founder of ‘Parla’, a social “tech for good” company aiming to build an equitable future for under-served communities in business and health. She said: “I believe the Cooper Project offers genuine and authentic support that is of high value to its community.
“The support I have received has been personalised and flexible in a way that allows for ongoing creativity, accountability and ensured progression. Thank you for welcoming me and for your continued support, even more so during the pandemic.”
Tom Oates, with his business idea, ‘MyDaas’, which is about digital footprint and personal data management, commented: “The support I’m receiving is great. I joined the Cooper Project during the pandemic, so things were different, but the management team set up fantastic regular video calls for me to integrate myself and learn about others on the programme.
“The breadth of knowledge amongst the core team is impressive in itself, but the range of contacts and other like-minded people on similar journeys is worth its weight in gold.”
Another new start-up business is ‘NotiFacts’, which is a fact-based learning app created by three graduates from the University of Sheffield. George Dawes, one of the team’s founders, said: “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the STP collective over the past few months. The opportunity for networking and seeking advice for tech start-ups is great! We have definitely made more progress being a part of this programme.”
The Cooper Project shares the same goals as other entrepreneurship support programmes in the region, as Tom Wolfenden explains: “We aim to contribute our value to the start-up ecosystem in the region by helping create successful start-ups in tech and digital sectors. We believe these start-ups will potentially generate jobs and enhance the local economic growth post-pandemic. That’s what we’re striving for!”
If you’d like to find out more about the Cooper Project, please email CooperProject@shefftechparks.com.