BUDDING entrepreneurs are being urged to take part in a three-day programme that could really kick-start their business following the launch of a landmark incubation hub in Basingstoke.

As previously reported by The Gazette, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making Cabinet has approved a £100,000 grant to SETsquared to create a business incubator in the town which will see support given to new hi-tech firms across the borough.

In January, the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership identified Basingstoke as one of four key towns that would lead the economic growth in its area, along with Farnborough, Guildford and Woking.

SETsquared officially launched the hub at The Innovation Centre, in Basing View, last Thursday in front of around 75 local business figures – and announced they will be holding the three-day programme in February.

SETsquared, which is a partnership between five leading research universities across the UK – the University of Bath, Bristol University, Univer-sity of Exeter, University of Southampton and the University of Surrey – is aiming to support the creation of 20 high-growth companies, and a network of smaller growth companies across the district.

Visitors to the launch heard from Will Franks and Peter Lilley, two entrepreneurs who received help from SETsquared with the launch of their businesses.

Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, then addressed the audience to outline the key services that the partnership offers, including a place where people can meet and network and work to connect local entrepreneurs with experts and academics in the hi-tech field.

He also unveiled the entrepreneurship programme which will take place at the hub between February 25 and 27.

The three-day programme, which only has 20 spaces available, will allow budding entrepreneurs to meet with experts and showcase their business plan. Experts will then give them feedback, and participants will be able to pitch their idea to investors set up by SETsquared on the final day.

Mr Bond told The Gazette: “Basingstoke is an ambitious town. I know that this area is very entrepreneurial and has global significance for its information technology. Why wouldn’t we come to Basingstoke?”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader Councillor Clive Sanders said: “This is a really important night because this is part of the real effort we are making to take Basingstoke and Deane into a new world of business and high technology.

“We really have an exceptional opportunity to take major steps forward and capitalise on the skills and knowledge that is already here, and potentially create thousands of new jobs in the area.”

To find out more about the entrepreneurship programme, and to apply, visit setsquared.co.uk/enterprise.