LEAP Business Start-up Programme

The LEAP Business Start-up Programme is a free course providing expert advice and the chance to win a cash prize of £2,500 to help start your business.

Our LEAP Business Start-Up Programme is designed to assist pre-start, start-up, and young businesses and is fully funded by Lewes District Council.

Applications for 2023 are now closed. Please do get in touch if you have any queries

By joining the LEAP Business Start-up Programme, eligible entrepreneurs will:

Attend a start-up workshop

Attend an interactive start-up workshop in Lewes or Newhaven.

Attend seminars

After shortlisting, 15 move on to Stage Two and attend a series of seminars focusing on areas where enterprises tend to fail in their first year. Those on the programme also receive mentoring from a team of dedicated business experts to help those entrepreneurs create viable, strong and robust business plans.

Go before a judging panel

Five business plans will be judged by a panel and the best business idea will be announced at the Lewes District Business Awards. The winner will receive the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ Award and a cash prize of £2,500 to help them set up a business. A runner up will receive £500.

The amazing group of LEAP Business Start-up participants from 2017

Judging panel and experts

Melanie Richardson

Managing Partner at Swindells Accounting

With offices based in Uckfield and Seaford, Managing Partner Melanie Richardson is responsible for the day to day running of the firm as well as looking after a wide range of clients. She heads up the corporate finance department, dealing with acquisition and disposal of companies, business group restructuring, and corporate tax planning. She is a board director at the Sussex Chamber of Commerce.

Christina Ewbank

Chief Executive EDEAL Enterprise Agency

During 23 years with Mercedes-Benz and smart UK, Christina Ewbank has run dealerships in Chichester, Eastbourne and Brighton and was also Regional Manager for Lexus Northern Europe based in Brussels. She has brought her expertise running multi-million pound businesses to Edeal Enterprise Agency providing business support for start-ups and existing businesses and runs the Town Centre Management Team, including the Eastbourne Borough Market and town centre promotions in Eastbourne.

Ian Woodward

Natwest Relationship Manager

Ian Woodward has been a Bank Manager for NatWest in Eastbourne for 15 years. He manages accounts for a wide range of businesses, specialising in finance to purchase freehold business premises. Outside of Banking Ian is a keen swimmer, and competes regularly for Eastbourne and Sussex Masters teams, as well as teaching swimming for Eastbourne Swimming Club. Ian also arranges occasional Charity events, the most recent being a Sausage Tasting Competition at the Matthew 25 Mission, where they provide meals for vulnerable people 5 days a week. As you can see he likes to get stuck in.

Find out from local businesses how LEAP has helped them

To be eligible to receive this support you must be 18 years old and over and able to attend training sessions in the Lewes District

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