Making an initial idea into a real concept and reputable business is hard work even in the best of circumstances – but in the creative sector it is especially tough and startups often face stiff competition.
Not that this is stopping Bristol and Bath’s creative geniuses from giving it a go. The South West is a hive for creative innovation and, now, Bath’s Guild Coworking Hub has begun honing in on this talent with the launch of the Network for Creative Enterprise (NfCE) earlier this year.
“The NfCE is here to offer bespoke support for creative practitioners to develop brilliant and productive new projects and enterprises”
A partnership between the Bath-based coworking space and other creative hubs in the region including Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC), Spike Island and Watershed and headed up by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the NfCE is addressing the specific challenges of sustainable development and growth in the creative sector across Bristol and Bath.
Charlotte Godfrey, Hub Producer at the Guild Hub, tells us: “The NfCE is here to offer bespoke support for creative practitioners to develop brilliant and productive new projects and enterprises that contribute hugely to both cultural diversity, the local economy, talent retention within the city, social inclusivity and well being.
“There are many examples of where early access to supportive space, industry advice, creative input, market testing and a community of peers has strengthened a fledgeling artist or creative entrepreneur, equipping them to take calculated risks and grow.”
Successful applicants to the NfCE can expect a mixture of support to turn their ideas into economically sustainable businesses, including free work space and a package of business development support.
“As long as you have an idea or business that falls under the creative or cultural umbrella then you should get in touch”
The application process is an easy one to get on board with, as Charlotte explains: “As long as you have an idea or business that falls under the creative or cultural umbrella (and yes it’s a big umbrella) then you should get in touch.”
Creative network: Potential new members spark ideas at
the launch event of the NfCE
She adds: “We have already recruited 18 residents across the hubs, many of which are entirely new business startups. These range from app designers to festival organisers, graphic designers to fabrication specialists.
“We are taking an informal approach to recruitment and the application process. Unlike many schemes, this is simple and easily accessed and the levels of support can be flexible, so if you’re usually put off by the arduous application process of business support, this is probably the one for you.”
Time to be bold
Nonetheless, if you’re keen to get involved but want in on what the NfCE looks for in its successful participants Charlotte hints: “The confidence and energy to be bold and to innovate is a key gain, wherever your journey takes you. The enterprise is designed to be hugely supportive and we want residents to feel confident in order to follow through with critical research and development which allows for failure and success, as both are needed to truly develop a successful enterprise, especially within the creative sectors.
“We want this to be an opportunity for the most unlikely amongst us to come on through the doors”
“All partner hubs are embedded within the creative, academic and business communities of the cities which is a huge advantage to residents.”
And if you’re simply curious, Charlotte urges: “Even if you just fancy being nosey and having a cuppa, just make contact. Ultimately the more conversations we have, the greater the diversity of talent we are likely to be able to support, and it could be the start of a cool creative journey into enterprise for you. We want this to be an opportunity for the most unlikely amongst us to come on through the doors.
“Our current residents have already fed back the benefits of being in a strong enterprise network which is allowing their creativity and enterprises to grow.
“Ultimately the NfCE is a great opportunity for The Guild and wider creative community in Bath to be working in partnership with Bristol to join the two creative communities together, making a difference to those of us who are trying to navigate our way through this world.”
If you’re looking to apply or have any questions – depending on your preferred co-working location – you can contact Charlotte at the Guild, Ian Abbott-Stratford at KWMC, Elisa Kay at Spike Island or Zahra Ash-Harper at the Watershed. To find out more check out the NfCE page on the Guild website.