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Entrepreneurial accelerator Ignite launches

Igniting the spark: pictured at the launch of the Ignite entrepreneurial accelerator are from left, Neil Patterson, Jason Sukdeo, Nicole Golden, Don Mackenzie, Gayle Mann, Piers Carr and Selange Gitschner (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ignite Bermuda today launched the island’s first privately funded entrepreneurial accelerator.

In partnership with Entrepreneurial Spark, one of the United Kingdom’s largest operators of accelerators, the new bespoke hub aims to be the ideal environment for local entrepreneurs to help them grow and scale their businesses, Ignite said.

From advisers and mentors to a formalised entrepreneurship curriculum to better access to capital through a broad and diverse investor network, local entrepreneurs will have access to the professional resources needed to build sustainable businesses in today’s rapidly changing economic environment, the organisation said.

Ignite Bermuda has been cofounded by KPMG and New Venture Holdings. It will operate as a not-for-profit organisation and all services including office space, education and mentoring will be provided at no cost to entrepreneurs and small businesses, the company said.

Successful applicants who earn a place in the programme will be able to work in the hub for a minimum of six months and will have access to the professional support services available, provided that they engage in the curriculum and meet mutually agreed milestones, Ignite said.

According to the 2018 Business Confidence Index Report, published by Total Research Associates, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) continue to dominate the Bermuda economy, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of the private sector, the company said.

“Ignite Bermuda is a social enterprise — it’s a collaborative work environment where entrepreneurs in the programme can obtain the tools they need to be successful. It’s a trusted environment where they can make connections and learn from the experiences of other entrepreneurs, get confidential, personalised coaching from mentors and business leaders to develop their skills and pursue their dreams,” said Neil Patterson, a director of Bermuda Accelerator Ltd (BAL), the company which operates Ignite Bermuda, and chairman of KPMG in Bermuda.

“Ignite Bermuda provides an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to leverage a community dedicated to helping their businesses start and succeed. When you combine the accelerator team’s expertise with the talented network of local entrepreneurs, it’s sure to speed up their ideas and businesses in a way that positively impacts our economy. Ignite empowers these entrepreneurs by, among other things, bringing them together to share ideas and experiences,” Don Mackenzie, a director of BAL and chairman and owner of New Venture Holdings, said.

The journey for the first cohort of 15 Bermuda-based entrepreneurs will begin in May 2019, with a boot camp and business curriculum customised for the Bermuda market by Entrepreneurial Spark, the company said.

Applications are now being accepted and must be received by April 24, 2019. All interested entrepreneurs are invited to visit www.ignitebermuda.com for the application requirements and assessment.

“People of any background who have a passion for business and an idea they want to pursue are welcome to apply,” Mr Patterson said at today’s launch.

Ignite will be based in 4,000 square feet of dedicated space located at Wesley House in the heart of Hamilton. Contributed by Argus, it will provide the ideal place to bring entrepreneurs, mentors and potential investors together, the company said.