The tech-powered pull of the U.K. capital city has convinced regional accelerator Ignite to put down some roots. The Newcastle-based incubator today announced plans to expand to London and Manchester over the next two years, while also remaining committed to its Northeast base.
Although Ignite has been working with startups in the two cities for some time — including, most recently, managing the CyLon security startup bootcamp program (announced at the start of this year, and currently hothousing its first cohort) — this is the first time it’ll be running its own programs in the two cities.
It’s raising £1.8 million to operate six programs in Newcastle, London and Manchester through July 2017. Each three-month program will invest in 10 early-stage startups.
Ignite said a third of the investment to fund the programs has been raised at this stage — from existing investors, including: Friends Reunited founder Steve Pankhurst; angel investor Doug Scott; former Barclays Wealth MD Simon Bichara; Manchester-based entrepreneur Laurence Marlor; and Newcastle-based Northstar Ventures, which manages funds on behalf of the Finance for Business North East program, a super-fund managed by North East Finance.
Ignite was founded back in 2011, selecting the Northeast city of Newcastle as the base for a pre-seed incubator program — and also now the home of its Campus North startup co-working space. It offers selected teams $30,000 in exchanged for 8 percent equity. Teams are not expected to have raised funding or include seasoned entrepreneurs and it’s this focus on very early-stage startups that Ignite reckons leaves room for its program in London’s otherwise well-served startup scene.
“There’s a still lack in quality coaching and support for early-stage tech teams in both cities [London and Manchester],” noted Ignite CEO Paul Smith in a statement. “In London, there hasn’t been a quality programme for pre-seed teams since Springboard merged with Techstars, which rarely considers first-time entrepreneurs — that’s a key motivation for our expansion to the capital.”
The new programs will launch in Newcastle in September 2015, London in January 2016 and Manchester in April 2016. Ignite added that it will be signing up its first full-time staff in London, to support startups outside the program.