Make It York joins forces with York Science Park to inspire business growth in challenging times

10th August 2020

Make It York joins forces with York Science Park to inspire business growth in challenging times

Make It York has teamed up with York Science Park to host a weekly online business support forum to support York-based science and tech businesses impacted by COVID-19, and to look ahead to the future through the recovery period and beyond.


The sessions, which have been taking place since May, have so far helped 19 businesses answer their COVID-19 and business related questions. The sessions have been led by Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager from Make It York, supported by Jane Coope, Head of HR Services at Bridge Employment Law and Mini Setty, Employment Partner at Langleys, with a range of York-based experts from financial, tax and telemarketing firms to answer any specific questions. So far the topics covered have included the government furlough scheme, available COVID-19 support, marketing, start-up support, business development and tax relief. The sessions have also offered valuable virtual networking opportunities with the use of Zoom breakout rooms.

Sean Bullick, Managing Director of Make It York, said ‘This is one of a series of events we have delivered to support and connect businesses across York.  These events offer invaluable knowledge sharing opportunities as well as giving us a timely reminder of our sectoral strengths and how we can work together as a city in this challenging recovery period.’

Now taking a summer break, the sessions are set to continue from 2 September, becoming a permanent fixture in the business networking calendar.

Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York, explained the thinking behind the sessions, ‘Throughout this difficult period for businesses, I saw extensively the positive impact that peer to peer sessions were having on businesses feeling isolated during lockdown or who have been experiencing unprecedented changes to how their business operates. With a collection of 130 businesses, I felt this was something that could be of benefit to the York Science Park tenants.

The forum offers tailored access to business support, networking opportunities and invaluable signposting to additional funding and support, as well as further, one-to-one targeted support where appropriate. It is great that there is a real appetite from the businesses to now operate the sessions on a more permanent basis and this will be a mix of virtual meetings and face to face when this option becomes available.  I’d urge any business who hasn’t come to the sessions to sign up and come along in September.’

Claire Bennett, General Manager of York Science Park said “We were thrilled to be able to offer these sessions to our residents. We had already taken measures like introducing a rent freeze to help support them but these forums have given them access to free, expert advice on a huge range of topics. It’s been very positive to see how many residents have responded to these invites and taken advantage of this opportunity.

No sector is exempt from the impacts of COVID-19 and the lockdown, and with so many of our residents being start-ups and SMEs we knew they might need more guidance than more established companies. We’re extremely grateful to Make It York for their help in facilitating these forums.”

There has been some great feedback from participants attending the forum:

Dr Nicholas Merriam of GLIWA Ltd, based in The Catalyst, explained the benefits of taking part in the forums saying they “provide a time-efficient way to obtain distilled legal and HR advice, as well as allowing Science Park residents to raise questions and share experiences at a time when more traditional channels are not functioning.”

Jo Wilson, Managing Director of NBD Rocks! in the Innovation Centre said “having only just moved into the Innovation Centre three weeks before we had to move out again, this weekly meeting is great to get to know the other residents, share ideas, knowledge, concerns and challenges. The sense of camaraderie is continuing!”.

“In these unknown & testing times communication and collaboration are key for me. That’s why these sessions are really helpful” explained Pritpal Rehal, whose business SplashBy is based in the Phase One incubator in The Catalyst.

Sessions will resume from Wednesday 2 September, 9am. Businesses interested in joining the forum should contact Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager at Make It York