A YORKSHIRE business support programme, which has provided more than £1.7m in grant funding since its launch, has seen demand up by nearly a third over 2020.

AD:VENTURE, which helps new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire, has helped more than 3,500 businesses and individuals in the Leeds City Region since it was started at the end of 2016. And this year the enquiries have been up by around 30 per cent.

Programme manager Sarah Carling said: “We have seen an increase in demand for the programme since lockdown.

“We have continued to deliver support throughout year, adapting to deliver virtually where this was needed. Despite the pressures of an extremely challenging business climate, we have seen incredible resilience from the businesses we work with, and a real determination to keep moving and adapting in order to survive and grow.

“We found that one to one advice has been more important than ever, giving the business owners we support a much needed sounding board, but also helping with crucial issues like adapting their business models to cope with current challenges and accessing government funding.”

This year AD:VENTURE, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has run 116 events, mainly online, to over 1300 delegates. Topics have included strategic marketing, building effective sales, pitching your business and podcasting.

Since its launch the programme has paid out 336 grants totalling just over £1.7m , including funds for purchasing vital equipment and refurbishing premises. The programme also offers mentoring and support from experts and academics via masterclasses and one-to-one support.

AD:VENTURE’s funding and delivery partners are from across the Leeds City Region and include the region’s nine local authorities, including Craven District Council.

For more information on AD:VENTURE go to https://ad-venture.org.uk/