Sustaining Shropshire’s Start-up programme graduates 7 aspiring entrepreneurs in first cohort


Last week, Agri-EPI Centre successfully completed the first iteration of the Sustaining Shropshire Start-up Programme, where 7 aspiring entrepreneurs were equipped with the skills and confidence to develop the foundations required to build a successful business.

Weeks 1 to 4, reflected in a previous blog, provided the grounds for the cohort to continue building upon their knowledge in the latter half of the 8-week programme.


Week 5 – Business models

Dr Matthew Rogers-Draycott, an entrepreneurship educator, was welcomed back in week 5 to deliver a session on the intricacies of business models. During this session, the cohort were guided on the process of how to identify their businesses’ vision and mission, turning them into attainable SMART objectives. Matthew also introduced the components of a Business Model canvas, giving the delegates an opportunity to consolidate and apply the knowledge they learnt across the previous weeks.


Week 6 – Introduction to marketing

Week 6 was led by Matt Jaworski, the Co-Founder of Adopter Marketing, a green-tech marketing agency, and Tom Slattery, the Marketing Manager at Agri-EPI. Matt provided a thought-provoking overview of the various elements of marketing and pitfalls to avoid. The session covered the marketing funnel, branding, the importance of a website when launching a business and the use of various communication channels including social media. Meanwhile, Tom highlighted different local marketing strategies, providing the delegates with valuable knowledge and tailored techniques that will benefit their individual businesses. 


Week 7 – Drop in support

In week 7, we held a drop-in session to give the cohort the opportunity to delve deeper into aspects of the programme relevant to each business idea, asking further questions, and identifying focus areas for potential future support required.


Week 8 – Investment opportunities

To conclude the programme, the final session gave a spotlight on the various funding and investment support available to start and grow a business. This included an overview of the Agri-Tech Investment Advisory (AIA) from Investment Advisory Manager Jos Lovegrove-Fielden, and the types of grants available to the cohort and the application process, delivered by Rebecca Lewis, Head of New Business and Proposals at Agri-EPI. David Farley, an agri-business consultant, provided further insights into local business growth support available.

To round off the final session, each entrepreneur also had the opportunity to complete an elevator pitch on their business idea and action plan based on the knowledge gained from the intensive 8-week programme.


Hayden Woolley, a participant on the Sustaining Shropshire Start-up programme, said:

“This programme has encouraged me to engage with potential customers before I’m ready to make sales. Sorting out my value proposition and points of difference has been particularly useful, helping me to gain confidence in building my business.”


Wendy Hewitson, Academic Partnership Manager at Agri-EPI, said:

“It has been a pleasure to support the first group of entrepreneurs in the Sustaining Shropshire project. The cohort has diverse backgrounds with a range of interesting business ideas which we have seen develop over the 8 weeks of interactive sessions.

As we merge with CHAP and CIEL to become the Agri-Tech Centres, we are looking forward to being able to provide a wider range of support and continue to follow the cohorts business journeys as they take the next steps in their ventures.”


With the next cohorts set to commence in May and September 2024, we are eager to continue supporting the aspirations of entrepreneurs, helping them to flourish. For more information about the Start-up programme and to register your interest for the next cohorts, click here.


Sustaining Shropshire is a collaborative project with Harper Adams University, the School of Sustainable Food and Farming, and the Agri-EPI centre (a part of the Agri-Tech Centres). It provides free expert support to Shropshire’s entrepreneurs, pre-trade, start-up agri-tech, agri-food and drink, and supply chain businesses to boost their sustainability, creativity, productivity, and efficiency. The project is funded by the Shropshire Council through the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity fund and will run until March 2025.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit UK Shared Prosperity Fund: 


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