AUGMENTED reality, the circular economy and a nut-butter brand are among Somerset businesses selected for special help as part of a new scheme.

The Somerset Catalyst team has announced 10 successful applicants, who have been invited to join the county’s inaugural new development programme for entrepreneurs and businesses.

Officially kicked off this week, Somerset Catalyst welcomed an impressive number of high-quality applications from diverse and aspirational businesses all around the county during the last six weeks.

Now, the team has unveiled its successful candidates, including a pre-start-up business, a third-generation family enterprise, a circular economy company, an augmented reality specialist and an Atlas Mountain-inspired nut-butter brand.

The full line-up of businesses joining the 20/21 programme are:

1. Ashmira Botanica Ltd: Wellington, Somerset

2. Eskeez: Taunton, Somerset

3. Indy Aesthetics: Taunton, Somerset

4. IN Reality Ltd: Yeovil, Somerset

5. InShare SMART Risk: Chard, Somerset

6. Make Me a Garden: Bridgwater, Somerset

7. Offcut Studio: Frome, Somerset

8. Singer Instruments: Watchet, Somerset

9. White Spark Design: Wincanton, Somerset

10. Yumello: Wells, Somerset

Over the next six months, the 10 entrepreneurs will receive one-to-one expert coaching from business coaches and participate in workshops in a whole range of business disciplines enabling the entrepreneurs to forge robust business plans and maximise their chances of securing investment and grant funding.

The Somerset Catalyst programme will also feature business review panels with industry experts, help to access business finance, and profile-raising marketing support, as well as peer-to-peer sessions (held via Zoom for the time-being).

One of the successful businesses is Ashmira Botanica Ltd, a start-up based in Taunton producing a luxurious range of natural waxing products for salons and spas across the UK and overseas.

Founder Tracey Smith said: “I am really looking forward to having experienced people help take my business to the next stage. I am looking forward to learning from their expertise to help make my business a resounding success.”

Offcut Studio, a Frome company that prevents textiles from becoming waste by reusing offcuts and scraps to produce high quality, well designed, desirable home goods, also joins the first Somerset Catalyst programme.

Russell Henny Peek, founder, said: “Coming from the creative industries, I am really excited about the opportunity to learn directly from experts with very different experiences to my own, and with the knowledge of knowing how to help young businesses succeed.

"I’m keen to focus on the next stage and feel that new perspectives on what I’m doing will lead to invaluable feedback and guidance.”

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Peter Birkett, one of the mentors running Somerset Catalyst, added: “We were extremely impressed with the quality of applications and are excited to help these businesses realise their true potential.

"There is so much energy and passion across the group, and we are confident our programme will set them up to succeed.”

Somerset County Council and the four Somerset district councils (Somerset West and Taunton, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and Mendip) joined forces to fund the annual programme, which aims to give start-ups and early stage businesses the best chance of success.

It is part of a wider business support programme that is rolling out across the county.

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 programme has been adapted as a hybrid delivery model, using a combination of virtual technologies as well as face-to-face interaction where possible.

Singer Instruments also joins the programme, with exciting plans for the future.

Managing director, Dr Harry Singer, said: “One of our internal mantras is: Use all the brains you've got, and all you can borrow.

"The Somerset Catalyst team look like a great bunch of brains to be borrowing from!”

For more on the programme visit www.somersetcatalyst.co.uk.