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FAQ

General

Allia’s Future Business Centres are the UK’s leading spaces for impact entrepreneurs. It has 4 centres in London, Cambridge and Peterborough with nearly 100,000sq ft of space. Our centres provide inspiring workspace for impact entrepreneurs and they are where we run our business support programmes from to help hundreds of ventures to start up, grow and scale.  

Our programmes are different because we support businesses who aim to make positive impact on people, planet and place – whether that’s through clean energy solutions, tackling social inequalities, or creating job opportunities, we are all about creating positive change. We align all our work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and all of the ventures supported on our programme address at least one of these. Our programmes are also completely free with no equity or charges, which means we are able to reach under supported and under represented entrepreneurs.

  • If you run a tech for good or social innovation business with a real potential to generate impact and can demonstrate some market traction or first round of funding, take a look at our Future 20 programme.
  • If you are a late pre-seed or seed start-up and are tackling a local or global problem, take a look at our Future Business Incubator programme.
  • If you run a local business based in East London and are looking to grow, then our Grow Your Business programme is for you.

All of our programmes are free. We do this because we are a not-for-profit and we reinvest into supporting start-ups and businesses in addition to working alongside some wonderful partners. We want to offer the best support and any revenue that businesses generate while participating on our programmers goes directly to them – we do not take any equity fees or charges.

Check out our case studies page, where you can read all about the impact being made by some of the businesses who have took part in our programmes.  

We receive lots of applications from great businesses, so don’t be disheartened if you’re not accepted this time. Our programmes run regularly and we encourage people to apply again if they weren’t accepted previously.

Future 20

Tech for good or social innovation business that can demonstrate some market traction or first round of funding. We are looking for impact ventures that aim to address at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with high growth and the potential to generate impact.  

Each one of our Future 20 will receive bespoke support that will help to build a resilient and sustainable business to inspire others. You will receive expert mentoring and advice, free 24/7 access to deskpace, valuable introductions and connections, and exclusive access to events. The Future 20 programme is one of a kind, and will help you to become a game changer in your field.  

Your application will include some details about your business, and asks for either a business plan or a pitch deck, alongside a video where you can tell us more about the market you are in. These will be reviewed first by the Programme Manager, and then by an advisory board with significant start-up expertise. A shortlist of applicants will be invited for an interview as a chance for us to find out more. This will either be in Cambridge, East London, or via skype. The advisory board will select the final 20 based on quality of the applicant and venture, and the breadth of impact related to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.  

Anywhere in the UK – you will get free desk space at any of our Future Business Centres, or we will help arrange work space for you with our partners. If you’re not close by to them, we will do our best to accommodate you.  

Once accepted, we will work together to create a roadmap to line up introductions, set goals and track progress. You’ll get a monthly check-in with the programme manager in person or by Skype, regular catch ups with mentors and others who may be supporting you, and opportunities to join workshops and events both locally, and in Cambridge or London. There is no specific time commitment per week or month,but we ask the founders to be committed to the programme overall, be willing to share openly, learn and collaborate throughout.

We are looking for start-ups that aim to address at least one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, (and especially invite applications from those working in tech for good). You should be able to demonstrate some market traction or first round of funding with a real potential to generate impact, and can be based anywhere in the UK.

A key aspect of any incubator programme is the connection you will make with other passionate and experienced entrepreneurs. You will meet the other members at the launch, a mid-way point and at the end of the programme, with optional workshops and events in between. There’ll be a Slack group for staying in touch online to encourage you to work with and support each other.

Our selected partners represent some of the best sector specific and professional support available for free. They will provide a range of support, resources and advice. Whether they are offering free memberships to their network, to broker introductions to other key players in your sector or supply chain, or giving access to their innovation programmes or marketing data, they are on board to help you succeed. Other examples of help already offered include a specific free legal helpline service, workshops on employment law and best practice, individual clinic sessions for advising on IP strategies and pitching to an audience for mentors or corporate ambassadors.

Our rich community of mentors and specialists will drive value to your business throughout the year. Mentors include serial entrepreneurs, business leaders and senior ambassadors from our partners. You will be allocated a mentor from the outset by the programme manager who can check in with you regularly and provide overall guidance, but additional mentors with specific skills and experience will be introduced as and when you are tackling specific challenges, such as in prototyping phase, or beginning fundraising.

We will support you in sharing your vision and impact goal, from ‘spotlighting’ your business through blogs and online profiles, to sharing your news and successes across our vast network, we’ll be on hand to help raise your profile.

Mentors and partners will be ensuring your business model is robust and your growth strategy is sustainable. When the time is right, we’ll leverage our relationships and bring together angel networks, venture capital groups, investment funds, foundations, and the venture arms of our partners and provide qualified introductions. The programme itself doesn’t offer investment or funds directly, but we know where to find them and will get you in the best shape possible to make fundraising a dream.

The programme of workshops, meetings and mentoring will be bespoke and customised to each founder based on the stage of their business, challenges, and pace of growth. Quarterly goals will be set across the full range of aspects of running a business, such as business finance and operations, team development, strategy and marketing. Workshops will be offered on specialist and general areas such as leadership, responsible tech, recruitment and legal issues. More elements will be developed as the programme evolves and a range of exciting opportunities to work with partners and other organisations are already under discussion.

Members of the Future 20 who are based nearby and require desk space will be offered it at any of our Future Business Centres in Cambridge, Peterborough and East London for free for the full duration of the programme (up to 18 months), depending on availability and for up to 4 members of the team. Members of the programme based elsewhere in the UK will be supported in finding some free space at any one of our partner sites (terms and conditions will apply).

You will become alumni of both the Future 20 and the Allia Future Business Centre network of impact ventures. We hope those that take up space in our Future Business Centres will stay on with us as tenants and feel part of the wider Allia family. A grand finale event will celebrate the journey of all the members, including some media and profile raising of the impact achieved. This will be a fantastic opportunity to bring more investors on board to supercharge your growth and impact onwards and into the future.

Future Business Incubator

Late pre-seed, or seed start-ups who have demonstrated traction and are addressing the most pressing local and global challenges. We welcome entrepreneurs who are looking to scale up their business with a real potential to generate jobs, growth and opportunities.  

The programme helps start-ups to combat common challenges, and you will get exclusive access to expert-led classes and workshops designed to accelerate your business. During the programme you will explore growth challenges and build up a valuable network of contacts including investors, partners and potential clients to accelerate your growth and raise your business profile. You also get 24/7 access to our inspiring workspace.

Once you’ve completed the application form and we have reviewed your business, we’ll invite shortlisted candidates to an interview. Shortly after your interview, we’ll let you know whether your application has been successful.

We run our Future Business Incubator from Cambridge, and East London. The programme runs simultaneously at both locations. You will be required to travel to one of these centres, so we accept applicants who are within a commutable distance.  

Applications will open in summer. You can get in touch to keep up to date.

You will be required to attend sessions at the Future Business Centre in either East London or Cambridge throughout the programme. There will be an option of free workspace for qualifying ventures for the duration of the programme for those who may require it. Sessions vary between full and half days happening on average once a week, and mandatory sessions every fortnight. Dates for all workshops will be provided before the start of the programme, and additional one-to-one mentoring meetings (running throughout) can be virtual and scheduled at your convenience.

We look for businesses that are late pre-seed or seed stage, have demonstrated traction. They should be addressing local and global challenges, and looking to make an impact on people, planet or place. Maybe you’re tackling climate change, improving health and wellbeing, or addressing food waste. If your business is making positive change, then we’d love to hear from you.

Grow Your Business

Local business owners that are based in East London and are looking to grow.

We provide 3 months of specialist support and the tools to help your local business thrive and grow. If you want to grow your business, we provide expert support to fit around your busy schedule to help you achieve growth.

We select businesses that are doing great things in their local area – and have a strong desire to grow, and (hopefully) create employment in the long run! You should ideally be located within Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham or Waltham Forest, or at least have a strong connection or presence within one of these areas and East London as a whole.

We run this programme from East London, and we deliver the programme to a different borough each time. Our next programme will focus on Hackney and Tower Hamlets.  To be eligible to apply, your business should either be based there, or benefit the area.  

Applications are open now for businesses in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. You can apply here.

You should expect to dedicate two evenings a week for the 3-month duration of the programme, as well as to be keen to do homework outside of this to scale up your business!

We welcome applications from all types of businesses – you could be running a café, a corner shop, a local garage, florist or photography business! You just need to want to grow.  

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