North East digital entrepreneurs are being encouraged to apply for a fellowship which offers funding towards living costs, mentoring and support.
DigitalCity Fellowships offer entrepreneurs who have an idea for a digital business up to £4,000 of funding while they develop their product or concept.
The deadline is looming for next round of Fellowships as entrepreneurs need to submit their applications by Monday September 8.
The DigitalCity project has now been running in the Tees Valley for 10 years and in that time it has helped to create more than 260 new companies.
Open to both individuals and teams with an original project idea, the scheme is open to those who live in the North East of England and who have graduated from University.
As well as funding to cover their living costs, Fellows receive industry-specific mentoring and advice from leading figures and access to workshops and networking events and also the use of specialist equipment.
Several of the region’s most successful digital companies have grown from DigitalCity Fellowships.
Hammerhead Interactive, a software development company which specialises in virtual reality games and visualisations, recently completed a Fellowship.
Since forming, the company has developed an interactive computer game for Durham University’s Oriental Museum which allows visitors to the website to interact with different artefacts.
It is also using cutting-edge touchscreen technology to develop interactive virtual reality computer games.
Director Christian Frausig said the Fellowship was a major factor in helping the company to succeed.
He said: “Obviously, the money was a big help as it gave us a chance to experiment and test out different ideas.
“However, the main thing that helped us was the mentoring. It was a huge benefit having all that advice about the best way to set up the business.
“There was a really good variety of mentors, not just within DigitalCity, but also the people they brought in from outside.
“If we needed specific legal advice or something like that, there was always somebody we could turn to.
“We were never working in isolation, there’s a great community here in Teesside.”
David Jeffries, head of DigitalCity, said: “Over the last decade DigitalCity has helped to create a collaborative digital economy in the Tees Valley and the Fellowship scheme has helped to launch hundreds of successful companies.
“DigitalCity Fellows find that the support they receive, both the funding and the advice and mentoring from leading industry professionals, help to remove a lot of the risk associated with early stage start-ups.
“Also, the contacts they make and the links they forge over the course of their fellowship help to ensure the future success of their business.
“We would like anybody who has an innovative digital business idea to get in contact with us.”
The DigitalCity project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.