New business accelerator scheme wants to create ten £20m-turnover companies in Norwich – within two years

TechVelocity Norwich. Left to right, Kris Jones, Sean Clark, John Fagan, Lee Scarfe, Lee Turner. Pic

TechVelocity Norwich. Left to right, Kris Jones, Sean Clark, John Fagan, Lee Scarfe, Lee Turner. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

An ambitious programme to help Norwich's tech businesses grow into national and international players has been launched – with the aim of doubling the value of the city's digital sector in just two years.

TechVelocity Norwich will use the experience of home-grown entrepreneurs to support start-ups in the next stage of their growth, with the goal of creating 10 firms with a £20m turnover by 2019.

The team wants to create a new generation of companies to emulate the international success of e-commerce business Epos Now, digital design firm Foolproof or artificial intelligence company Rainbird – which have all started out in the city.

MEET: The entrepreneurs behind TechVelocity Norwich

Based at digital hub Whitespace at Whitefriars, the project is being led by chairman Neil Garner, founder of digital payments and marketing firms Proxama and Thyngs, and programme director Kris Jones.

Mr Garner said the aim was to make up a shortfall in middle-sized tech businesses and compete with cities such as Brighton – which has a digital gross value added of £580m compared to Norwich's £165m despite having a similar-sized population.

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'We have got that old guard of businesses which have succeeded almost despite of the system and despite of being in Norwich,' he said. 'It is a great place to grow a business in many ways, but we need to help businesses get to the next stage.'

TechVelocity aims to connect young businesses with the 'ecosystem' of funding, services and advice to help them bloom. The plan is to take businesses with a product, rather than a service, which can be scaled up 'explosively' during an intensive six month period.

On top of mentoring, there will be access to tailored advice from law, accountancy and marketing firms. Mr Garner said: 'We want to help create 10 businesses with a turnover of £20m within the next two years.'

Mr Jones added: 'The UK has got one of the worst productivity scores in Europe. We are hoping to make the country and region more of a player.'

The scheme has links to more than 60 investors to further fund successful businesses. A preparatory scheme will also support companies not yet ready for rapid growth. TechVelocity Norwich will be launched, initially as a not-for-profit venture, on July 20 with the first cohort chosen by September.