New network aims to boost entrepreneurs

A major new network to encourage innovation and help Norfolk businesses to grow is being launched later this month. Focused on entrepreneurs, start-ups, and on small and medium-size companies, the Norfolk Network's aim will be to help those who are going for high growth, especially through the use of science or technology.

A major new network to encourage innovation and help Norfolk businesses to grow is being launched later this month.

Focused on entrepreneurs, start-ups, and on small and medium-size companies, the Norfolk Network's aim will be to help those who are going for high growth, especially through the use of science or technology.

Announced at the SciTech 2003 conference earlier this year, it will officially launch on May 29 at The Forum in Norwich (5.30pm onwards). All Norfolk companies and any individuals involved in inventing and commercialising new ideas are invited.

Network chief executive Bev Hurley said: "Through the Norfolk Network, it's possible to raise the profile of innovation and entrepreneurship in the county through a dynamic, highly interactive and mutually supportive network community."


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The Norfolk Network is funded by the East of England Development Agency, Business Link for Norfolk, Norfolk County Council and YTKO, a specialist venture development company which is providing the management of the network based in Norwich.

"We have two key aims," said Ms Hurley. "The first is to help members get, keep and grow customers. Nothing affects the bottom line more – customers are critical to your success, whether you're a new start-up or an organisation with hundreds of people. The Norfolk Network goes to the heart of this – exploiting effective innovation and continuous improvement, strategic marketing, investment, selling and delivering customer value."

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She said its second aim was to foster and support the increased development, and successful exploitation of, innovation in science and technol"We have a world-class research base here in Norfolk, with a wealth of expertise and knowledge. The Network brings entrepreneurial academics, students, scientists and business people together. Through working closely with other partners, we aim to unlock this potential for the benefit not only of Norfolk and its people, but for UK plc as well."

The Norfolk Network will feature monthly events, seminars, master classes and opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas. Its comprehensive website will also launch on May 29 (www.norfolknetwork.com).

Tony Tomkinson, cabinet member for economic development for Norfolk County Council, said: "The Norfolk Network forms an important part of our Shaping the Future strategy for the county. It will help develop and enrich the competitiveness of the Norfolk economy and raise the profile of the county as a great place to live, work and learn – two of our key priorities."

Julie Schofield, Business Link for Norfolk's service development manager, welcomed the initiative. "As a key component of the Government's support for small business, we look forward to working with the Norfolk Network, helping enable more entrepreneurial Norfolk businesses to start, thrive and fully exploit their growth potential."

Kate Phillips, innovation and cluster development manager for EEDA, said: "We have set some challenging targets for the Regional Economic Strategy. The Norfolk Network helps us meet those objectives through developing both the knowledge economy and knowledge transfer capabilities within the region. We are a highly innovative area, but businesses often need help in taking innovation beyond start-up into sustainable growth."

Guest speakers at the launch will be Dr Bruce Butler, head of innovation at KPMG, and 'futurologist' Dr Peter Cochrane, whose company Concept Labs is now growing global businesses on four continents, including ebookers.

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