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East Anglia Future 50

Ipswich's flagship enterprise hub to close due to tough climate

PUBLISHED: 09:43 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:16 17 July 2018

Digby Chacksfield , chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir building at the University of Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Digby Chacksfield , chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir building at the University of Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A flagship ‘enterprise hub’ in the heart of Ipswich is set to close its doors, blaming a tough climate for funding and contracts.

Digby Chacksfield , chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir building at the University of Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDigby Chacksfield , chief executive of The Eastern Enterprise Hub in the James Hehir building at the University of Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Eastern Enterprise Hub in the top floor of the James Hehir building will close on July 31 after training hosts of entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs since it launched seven years ago.

Since 2011, 2,000 people from across the region have attended a range of programmes for start-up and social entrepreneurs under the School for Social Entrepreneurs East banner.

Chief executive Digby Chacksfield said: “We’re a community interest company that relies on funding and contracts. Unfortunately in the current climate, it’s getting harder and harder to source available opportunities to resource our programming, therefore our board of directors took the very tough decision that it was the right time to close the business.

“We’ve had a wonderful seven years of helping start-up enterprises and can take enormous pride in what has been achieved. Many amazing entrepreneurs have been shaped by what they have heard and learnt at the Eastern Enterprise Hub. Our legacy will live long into the future thanks to the social impact the entrepreneurs have had on their communities and wider audiences.”

Vimmi Hayes Picture: VIMMI HAYES COACHINGVimmi Hayes Picture: VIMMI HAYES COACHING

He thanked supporters for their generosity.

The hub said its ethos would continue through its partners. Ipswich Borough Council has confirmed it will continue to fund and support the very popular Ipswich Entrepreneurs programme, which will be delivered from the University of Suffolk by staff from the Eastern Enterprise Hub.

The Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Programme 2018 will continue to be delivered in the eastern region and the Eastern Enterprise Hub is making plans for the future of the Ipswich Games Hub, which has helped a number of Games Studios go on to win national competitions and launch popular games on platforms including the App Store.

Vimmi Hayes of Vimmi Hayes Coaching, who completed the Suffolk Entrepreneurs Programme in January 2018, praised the support she received. “I’m so pleased the philosophy of the Eastern Enterprise Hub will continue despite its closure.”

Olive Quinton, centre, and the Lofty Heights team Picture:CURTIS BEADLEOlive Quinton, centre, and the Lofty Heights team Picture:CURTIS BEADLE

Olive Quinton, founder of Lofty Heights, a home, garden and loft de-cluttering service now in its sixth year, attended the second Social Entrepreneurs Programmes delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs East in 2012.

“Lofty Heights would not have been possible without the encouragement, practical help, support, introductions and networking opportunities that I received from SSE East,” she said.

“Since graduating from the course, I have been most grateful to SSE East for allowing me continued use of their incubator space. I feel passionate about SSE East and privileged to have had an opportunity to meet so many inspiring people on the School for Social Entrepreneurs Programme.”

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