January 18, 2018

TechStars Community Business Incubator

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Turning young job seekers into job creators.

 

The Blair Project is launching a community business incubator programme called TechStars to upskill young people to use digital fabrication technologies to generate their own income and create employment through the manufacture of bespoke 3D printed products. These will range from high quality replica museum artefacts, prosthetic limbs, jewelry to rapid prototyping services for industry. The main hub for incubating Techstars youth ventures will be the DigiFutures Centre at Central Park in Wigan.

In the UK around one million people aged 16-25 are unemployed and being pushed further and further away from the job market. The Prince’s Trust’s Youth Index Report shows a third of young people do not feel in control of their job prospects and 42% of young people feel traditional goals like owning a house or even getting a steady job are unrealistic.

 

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing is revolutionising the world of manufacturing, and is expected to create 60,000 well paid jobs1 over the next four years. Catalysing community businesses which harness new and emerging technologies will give our young people the best possible start in life, either as entrepreneurs or skilled workers for industry.

TechStars forms part of Made in Wigan, a ‘make & buy local’ initiative developed in partnership with Abram Ward Community Co-operative and Business In The Community to build community wealth and enrich lives which secured £1 million of funding from Power To Change.

‘Made In Wigan’ will focus on the manufacture of products or services that reflect Wigan’s rich industrial, cultural sporting and community spirit heritage which people either need or will want to buy. If every resident spends just £2 per week with community businesses instead of chain stores, it would inject an extra £32 million into the local economy every year, creating thousands of jobs and reducing youth unemployment. ALL profits made by Made in Wigan will be reinvested back into kickstarting and supporting more community businesses to become viable.

We want to create a more prosperous Wigan with opportunities for all to flourish by growing community businesses and persuading local residents and organisations to buy local – starting in Abram Ward. Our aim is to deepen understandings of how successful community businesses can create jobs, alleviate poverty and regenerate local economies.

Launching in February 2018, Made In Wigan products will be sold using a variety of channels including an online store, high street shop and monthly market events around the borough. One of the start up ventures will manufacture high quality replica museum artefacts using 3D scanning. Beginning at Wigan Museum of Life, it will seek to win contracts with other museums in the North West to scan collections that can go on sale in their giftshops.

From the manufacture of replica museum items and fans memorabilia, to prosthetic limbs, jewelry, film props, business awards, tools and rapid prototyping services, the 3D printed products will go on sale in Made In Wigan shop in the Galleries, online platform as well as local student markets. Participants on the TechStar Community Incubator Programme will receive a combination of:-

  • technical & vocational training in 3D printing and product design,
  • entrepreneurial training,
  • mentoring by retired professionals,
  • incubation space from which to trade from
  • and access to finance to help them get the best start.

In addition, it will:-

  • Encourage their parents to get involved and leverage their skills, knowledge, networks and connections to support the growth of these youth community businesses.
  • Match young people up to retired well-educated volunteers who want to give back and share their knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Encourage local businesses to support community businesses through mentoring, and staff volunteering, fundraising and donations of equipment.
  • Provide work experience, work placements opportunities in community spaces to improve the employability and work readiness skills of disadvantaged young people. This will include the Made in Wigan shop in the Galleries, the monthly Youth Markets, and also digital marketing for the Online Made In Wigan store.
  • Offer a tiered level approach to training and apprenticeships (including degree level) and allowing people of all ages and abilities to be involved in community business, reducing inequality and allowing people to generate their own income.