A NEW co-working space launching next month will offer support to start-up companies, thanks to funding from the borough council.

IncuHive will open in Church Street in October, offering free workshops, networking events and training for local businesses, as well as hot-desk spaces for people to work.

The company, whose head office is in Chandler's Ford, was launched three years ago by University Of Winchester lecturer Steven Northam and the owner of engineering company The Worley Group, Mike Worley, who are passionate about finding a way to help people setting up their own business.

The new Basingstoke branch will be run by George Scott-Welsh who explained the concept.

"Our office in Chandler's Ford is a collaborative co-working space with about 20 businesses working there and 40 using it as a registered address or for hot-desking. We offer support all the way from designing a business plan, access to investment, networking, mentoring and book-keeping and accounting."

The Basingstoke office, at the Top of Town, offers a high street co-working space in the 1,000 square metre building, and various free workshops will be held there throughout the year, with topics including how to set up a business, crowd funding and marketing.

"We are targeting start-ups," explained George, adding: "A lot of what we are offering is free, so we will deliver 40 workshops a year and free networking events."

One of the company's first clients is a community interest business which is supporting people with autism to find employment.

IncuHive is helping them develop a sustainable model so they don't need to rely on grant funding.

The company has completely transformed the new office space and added in some quirky details to inspire those who come inside, such as a yellow phone box which has come all the way from China to match Archive’s distinctive colour, a life-sized cow and a beehive which will be used as a meeting pod.

George said the company's ethos is helping people, adding: "Our chairman owns a large engineering company and he set up the business with Steve for exactly that reason, to help people. Steve has all these students who he educates but they have nowhere to go when they leave. They have created a space where people can come to learn and get support."

He said they also want people to have fun, adding: "We have been to so many co-working spaces and no one talks to each other. It's exactly the same as on the tube. Without that fun environment people won't share. So, we have pitching events and networking events and barbecues."

He said there is a real need for support for new businesses, with statistics showing that many fail within their first year.

"TV programmes like The Apprentice and Dragon's Den have had a huge impact on people getting excited about starting a business and wanting give it a go, but lots of people don't get it right and waste a lot of time and money, so we have a process based on methodology to make sure the business is providing a solution to a problem which actually exists."

The borough council is supporting the establishment of the Top of the Town enterprise hub through financial support of £160,000 over a three year period. This funding is to help the hub become self-financing to ensure long lasting support for enterprise in the borough.

The borough council’s leader Councillor Clive Sanders said: “The new enterprise hub at the Top of Town demonstrates our commitment to support the development of new businesses and the town centre by bringing back into use this empty council-owned retail unit.

"The enterprise hub is being run by IncuHive and will be an exciting business community space where residents, entrepreneurs and local businesses can access business advice and support to help them start or grow their business in a central location.

"There will also be a programme of networking events, training courses and dedicated mentoring. With IncuHive, DeskLodge and Setsquared all in the borough we are sending a strong message that Basingstoke and Deane is the perfect location for start-ups and entrepreneurs.”

A celebratory launch event is being planned for next month, with the space set to open in mid-October.