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Cathedral to help small businesses

03 May 2013

PORTSMOUTH CATHEDRAL

Enjoying the view: the directors of Distinction Games, a new business that has gained office space under Portsmouth Cathedral's scheme

Enjoying the view: the directors of Distinction Games, a new business that has gained office space under Portsmouth Cathedral's scheme

A SCHEME created at Portsmouth Cathedral to nurture new small businesses was formally launched this week.

The Cathedral Innovation Centre (CIC) was established last year to offer spare church office-space to embryo businesses. Entrepreneurs were offered a package that included desk space, start-up loans, administrative and marketing support, and mentoring from more experienced businesspeople.

Since then, the idea has been taken up by churches in Bournemouth and Havant, and the Portsmouth Roman Catholic diocese has offered a building in Southampton. The director of the CIC, Francis Davis, is in discussions with church authorities in East Anglia, the North West, and Derby.

"Before being launched, the Portsmouth Innovation Centre is full, and has a waiting list," he said. "For a total cost of £9000, it has opened 14 start-up desks. Pledges in kind to date exceed hundreds of thousands of pounds."

The centre was created as a partnership between Portsmouth Cathedral, the University of Portsmouth's Business School, the Portsmouth RC diocese, and the Royal Society of Arts.

New businesses signed up at Portsmouth include a catering company, a charity that helps voluntary groups, and the computer games firm Distinction Games, created by friends studying at the University of Portsmouth. One of its directors, Orcun Adsoy, said: "I came to look round, and was given two business contacts before I'd even signed up to be part of the centre. The group running the CIC are incredibly well-connected, the rent was incredibly low, and the location beautiful."

At the launch, this week, by Baroness Berridge, who announced the creation of the centre last May in the House of Lords, guests were invited to join a community share floation. The centre wants 2000 people to invest £75 each to help firms and future entrepreneurs.

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