A new scheme from the UEA’s Norwich Business School is offering support, experienced mentors and financial assistance to innovative companies from across the county.

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The Norfolk Knowledge Innovation Panel is seeking local start-ups, community organisations and entrepreneurs to apply and take advantage of the support on offer.

The idea is to foster innovation in Norfolk, and applicants could have product ideas or new processes in manufacturing or marketing.

Mentors taking part in the scheme include Gavin Sargent, previously operations director for Panache Lingerie, Keith Beck, who worked in management consultancy for the Civil Aviation Authority and also founded the People First Technology consultancy and Henry Head, founder of HH Consulting and Norfolk Lavender.

Chair of the Norfolk Knowledge Innovation Panel, Richard Garnett, was also lead technologist at Aviva from 2003 to 2007 and is acting as a mentor.

“As a region, Norfolk has a rich heritage of innovation,” he said.

“Through this scheme we aim to promote, nurture and celebrate this innovation.

“Businesses and organisations can now gain access to a team of very experienced individuals that will be there to assist them and push their innovation project to the next level. “Whether the innovations are in new products, services or systems, we urge organisations to apply now for this help which could also include funding.

“This will be a great boost for their organisation and for Norfolk as a whole.”

Norfolk Knowledge is led by Norwich Business School and supported by Norfolk County Council.

It allows retired or experienced business people, whole departments or voluntary organisations to share their knowledge with people or new businesses based in Norfolk.

The group is aiming to recruit more mentors and more businesses interested in seeking advice and support.

The scheme will provide the most promising candidates with a package of support including expertise and finance until April 2012.

The idea came from Professor Nikolaos Tzokas, chair in marketing at Norwich Business School, who noticed the large number of experienced people that lived or came to retire in Norfolk.

After ten months of research into the scheme it was launched in 2009.

Norfolk Knowledge Innovation Panel is part of the Vital Rural Area project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

For more information, or to sign up as a mentor or apply for mentoring, visit www.norfolkknowledge.co.uk.

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