Three tech start-ups have launched as part of an accelerator programme in Durham.

Business Durham's six-month package has supported networking platform NetKnoWho, taxi and private hire app taxigoat and messaging app ChatPro, who all took part in the Durham City Incubator (DCI).

Set up in 2018 as a joint venture between Durham University, New College Durham and Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, the DCI programme helps up-and-coming businesses, that have been trading for under 12 months, to accomplish their goals.

It also supports local entrepreneurs launch start-ups with high growth potential.

So far, in the past five cohorts, the programme has supported 39 entrepreneurs across a wide range of sectors in not only launching their businesses but achieving recognition and investment funding.

Each of those businesses benefitted from six months of intensive one-to-one support from the DCI programme – including mentoring sessions, workshops, seminars and networking events to enable them to grow and scale up.

NetKnoWho is a networking platform connecting the North East business community, ensuring clients are making the best use of their networking time in a post-lockdown world, meeting the right people and having the right conversations.

It was launched this year by Jeni Smith, who has over 15 years’ experience in the networking industry.

The idea exists as a digital platform of her original networking ecosystem, which has seen huge success since the launch of her business in April 2020.

She said: “Being Part of the DCI programme was a huge help to me and the business.

"Those six months were intense, but packed full of useful content, training, and information.”

Another emerging platform receiving DCI support is taxigoat, a mobile app which connects customers to local licensed taxi and private hire firms – where customers choose their operator and always pay the advertised price, even during busy times.

The platform is described by taxigoat founder Ross Pottenger as an app where local providers can offer their services to passengers, and where passengers can pick which available provider they want to book.

Secure messaging app ChatPro also took part in the programme.

A fast, secure messaging app for education, sport and social care organisations, it facilitates safe and effective communication across teams while enabling them to meet their safeguarding needs and data protection duties.

The platform was set up by teacher Harry Serle, who wanted to create a version of WhatsApp that was safeguarding compliant and could be used in schools.

Sarah Slaven, interim managing director at Business Durham, said: "Through initiatives such as this, Business Durham and our partners at Durham University and New College Durham can support innovation and enterprise in the region.

"We will work closely with businesses every step of the way on their journey to develop and grow.”


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