In a move to boost the economy and encourage retail growth, StartUp Britain has launched an initiative that will allow start-ups in need of an outlet to use empty high street shops.
The StartUp High Street scheme, which is also expected to rejuvenate the UK's high streets, follows a government announcement last week that a reduction in red tape will make it easier to open empty shops as pop-ups.
"The best local high streets offer more than simply shopping - they are the beating heart of their neighbourhoods: places to meet, work, relax and come together in open-air community centres," said Grant Schapps, Minister of State for Local Housing and government. "The government is already breathing new life into the nation's high streets through Portas Pilots and the High Street Innovation Fund and so it's great to see innovative new initiatives like StartUp High Street bringing new people and new uses to empty shops. Projects like this support new businesses, provide local jobs boost local economies. I hope that its future success will be a model for other towns."
A pilot store in Richmond called PopUp Britain will feature the first six start-up businesses, including Morrows Outfitters, a sock manufacturer; The Camouflage Company, selling British-made camping equipment; and Vulpine, offering cycling accessories.
"StartUp High Street gives small start-up businesses a fantastic opportunity to scale their businesses and become a part of their high street. We're seeing record numbers of people setting up businesses, and this new wave of entrepreneurs are starting out small and online," said Emma Jones, co-founder of StartUp Britain.
The initiative also includes PitchUp, a programme that will give start-ups a chance to pitch their products to high street retailer John Lewis, with the hopes of getting their merchandise onto the department store's shelves.
"StartUp High Street is a great example of what can and needs to be done to support small businesses. They are the driving force of the economy and now more than ever we've got to do everything we can to help them find ways to grow," says Lord Young, the Prime Minister's Enterprise Advisor.
StartUp High Street is seeking the support of local authorities to offer incentives to the landlords of empty shops to open them up to local StartUp High Street initiatives. Each business involved in the initative will have the use of a laptop from Dell, access to PayPal's internet payments system and Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software. Additionally, the shop will be kitted out, courtesy of John Lewis and insured through AXA.
For more information and to apply for a space click here, www.startupbritain.org/highstreet.