A new report from Whitecap Consulting, published in partnership with City of York Council and University of York, claims the development of a business accelerator would position York as an entrepreneurial location and a key part of the wider innovation ecosystem across the north.

The report, which is the result of a consultative process involving approximately 100 stakeholders, assesses the appetite and opportunity for a business accelerator to deliver job growth, attract new inward investment and to support the expansion of York’s innovation and technology ecosystem. It finds that an accelerator could enable and support tech startups to succeed in the city and attract additional high-value inward investment.  

Key stakeholders from the organisations consulted in the research process recognised the benefits of developing stronger local innovation capabilities and collaboration opportunities between startups and the universitiesThey also communicated a desire to see the creation of significant numbers of high-value and high-skilled jobs aligned to key growth sectors and national and international trends. The supply of talent and skills in York is already considered to be strong, with 70% of participants in an online survey conducted as part of the research rating the availability of talent and skills in York positively 

Richard Coates, Managing Director of Whitecap Consulting: 

“We are pleased to present our analysis of the York innovation ecosystemwhich has multiple key sector strengths, most notably RailTech, digital/creative and BioTech. The project was designed to analyse whether an accelerator would be beneficial to York and to understand how to develop a relevant vision and operating model for such an initiative. Our report presents an honest and future-focused assessment of a city with strong potential within the north and further afield.  

Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, City of York Council: 

“We must enable the talents of York’s residents to create start-up companies to get ready for economic recovery from Covid 19. Working with partners in the city an opportunity has been identified for a Business Accelerator to help generate a wide range of new jobs. This will join up with efforts to generate business space, and help to transfer academic research, into a wide range of job opportunities in the city, so that all communities can benefit. Career opportunities for young people in particular have been particularly hit by the impact of the pandemic, and so ambitions to create new jobs in cutting edge technology will help York to become a key driver for growth across the North.” 

Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Engagement at the University of York:

“The UK Government has set out clearly its desire to ‘level up’ the UK’s economy by seeking opportunities to invest in the North. It has also been clear that research and innovation is a route to economic success that we need to harness new ideas and technologies to make the UK a R&D superpower. Those ambitions are all the more pressing now that the economy has suffered its largest contraction in a hundred years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to recover quickly and recover well. The University of York is well set to play a major role in supporting those ambitions.” 

The report highlights that York needs to improve its attraction for investors and drive high-value inward investments similar to other successful northern cities, and identifies a number of areas for consideration including: leadership; physical space; startup selection process/criteria; mentorship; IP protection; and collaboration. The proposed next step is to conduct a more detailed feasibility study. 

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Download the report:

York Business Accelerator Analysis (high res version)

York Business Accelerator Analysis (email version)