Future50: The search is on to find the most exciting and ambitious companies in Norfolk and Suffolk
- Credit: I Do Photography
The search is on for Norfolk and Suffolk's brightest and boldest companies to join the new class of Future50. Could your firm be among them? Mark Shields reports.
Is your business among the most inspiring and ambitious companies in the region?
Applications are now open for the Future50 Class of 2018, and we want to hear from the most exciting and dynamic companies and entrepreneurs from across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Our selection panel is on the lookout for businesses with the talent to be innovative, the vision to grow and the drive to make it happen.
In return, the new crop of members will receive exclusive benefits which will give them the edge to succeed, from intensive business advice to support on subjects including marketing and access to finance.
The programme is led by enterprise agency Nwes and Archant, publishers of the Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times, and supported by partners Birketts, Barclays, Lovewell Blake and the University of East Anglia.
Andrew Wilson, head of enterprise at Nwes, said he hoped innovation would be a key feature of applicants this year.
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'The Future50 members of 2018 will have a real drive and commitment to grow their business - that's why Future50 is as much about the individual as the business,' he said.
'They will show the entrepreneurial spark to spot an opportunity, seize it and make the most of it. The programme brings together businesses with an ambitious outlook at regular events, and there are opportunities to work in partnership with other like-minded companies.'
Mr Wilson also encouraged businesses which had previously entered to re-apply.
Future50 members are also invited to specialist events, conferences and supper clubs, where they can learn from experts, or discuss informally the challenges facing businesses and how to overcome them.
Previous cohorts of Future50 have been focused on job creation, with the total over the last two groups now standing at 421 jobs – more than double its target of 200 – with the tally expected to pass 500 by next summer.
Those groups included innovative firms such as Epos Now, Lisa Angel, Redwell Brewing and the Hearing Care Centre, which have each gone on to achieve national and success and recognition.
Could your business be next?
Apply by clicking here
Future50 is about finding inspiring and ambitious individuals who are driven to succeed in business. Typically, they will have: • Already run a business for at least a couple of years and seen some growth; • A desire to learn from others and reflect on their performance; • A clear focus on their business's goals; • A desire to innovate - in product, service or business culture The programme is open to small and medium-sized businesses, meaning that you should be employing no more than 250 people and turn over less than £40m. Anyone can apply, but we are looking for enterprising and innovative entrepreneurs and businesses with the greatest potential to have an impact on the local economy over the next three years. Does this sound like you? You can find out more about Future50 and apply for the new programme here
'The Future50 family' - Lisa Angel
Since joining the Future50 programme in 2015, jewellery and accessories manufacturer and retailer Lisa Angel has gone from strength to strength.
The latest triumph for the Rackheath-based company was securing a concession stand in Topshop in Norwich.
Founder Lisa Angel said being part of Future50 had been a 'huge help' in the £4.3m-turnover firm's expansion, while Nwes had provided 'invaluable advice and guidance'.
'We've been opened to a network of other businesses and like-minded owners within the Future50 family with whom we could discuss growing pains and successes, ideas on how to do things differently and share information. We've been able work with one of these companies and use their services,' she said.
'The publicity from Future50 has raised our profile around Norfolk and Suffolk and helped in attracting new staff.'
'Future50 really over-delivered' - Grant Hardy of Liquid11
Meeting like-minded businesses, funding help and the input of thought-provoking speakers were among the highlights for Future50 member Liquid11.
Managing director Grant Hardy said the quality of the programme had caught him by surprise.
'Sometimes these things promise you a lot and don't deliver but Future50 really under-sold and over-delivered,' he said.
'We met a few businesses that we went on to work with, and one of them, Inheritance Data, we still work with.
'Because there are several events through the year you have time to get to know other businesses and you can work out who you might want to do business with.'
Mr Hardy added he enjoyed the talk from Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black's chocolate, at the F50Live! conference, which he said was inspirational.
Based in Lowestoft and Norwich, the telecoms firm employs 47 staff and has a turnover of £2.45m.
'We were surrounded by winners' – Richard Vass of Burland Technology Solutions
A major benefit of the Future50 programme is having access to other 'successful, growing' businesses.
So says Burland Technology Solutions, based at Great Blakenham near Ipswich, a Queen's Award for Enterprise winner, which augmented a period of steady growth with the acquisition of a London-based firm last year.
Burland, a power distribution specialist, acquired Electropatent International Business, a cable management systems specialist, to boost its overall turnover from £4m to £5m.
Burland managing director Richard Vass said his business, with the exception of 2008, had grown by about a fifth each year, and the latest expansion offered opportunities to increase exports. It had been good to be 'surrounded by winners' as part of the Future 50 line-up, he added.
'It's just good to be associated with a group of other successful businesses that are all growing,' he said.
Does this sound like you? You can find out more about Future50 and apply for the new programme here.