Following the success of the Virtual Pop-up Centre (VPUC) Facebook group which launched during the November lockdown, the group is set to continue into 2021 on a monthly basis for businesses to utilise.
The VPUC was formed with a view to connecting Cornish businesses with expertise and guidance from the business support provider(s) within the county, whilst also giving entrepreneurs and business owners a platform to be able to interact, ask questions and seek assistance to overcome the many challenges they are facing during these difficult times, particularly in relation to reoccurring lockdowns and the digitisation of services and operations.
As a consequence of Covid-19 and the national restrictions, much of the traditional face-to-face business support offered throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has needed to evolve digitally.
It’s for this reason that Acceleration Through Innovation² (ATI²), a £3.4 million project, led by the University of Plymouth and part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), have taken their Pop-up Innovation Centre offering into the virtual realms of Facebook, as a Facebook group, in order to continue their outreach activities.
In the last months of 2020, the ATI² Virtual Pop-up Centre hosted weekly Facebook LIVE Q&A sessions, every Friday at 10am, to trial their new virtual format. These online events covered a wide range of topics, from finance to social media and featured a number of local experts who answered questions submitted by viewers and gave free advice.
Paul Rogers, ATI² Pop-up Innovation Centre Coordinator and host of the Virtual Pop-up Centre LIVE events, explains:
“Our physical Pop-up Innovation Centres were always a great way of meeting with businesses and sharing knowledge in those hard to reach areas of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The current pandemic has really disrupted that endeavour, in the same way that it’s caused so much disruption for the businesses that we work with, so we are delighted to have found another way to reach those that need our help more than ever right now”.
Local business owner, Paul Hills of InTandem Group, commented during a live Virtual Pop-up conversation regarding ATI²‘s partners at the Digital Peninsula Network (DPN), writing:
“That’s amazing! I listened to Paul just now talk about DPN. Filled in a form on the DPN website and within 2 minutes had a call back. Spoke to DPN, very helpful, and now he’s sending me some details on some courses that sound ideal. How quick is that??”
Thanks to the positive uptake and feedback, the VPUC will continue into 2021 via a monthly broadcast on the first Friday of each month at 10am. In doing so, ATI² aim to deliver further opportunities of knowledge exchange, introduce businesses to the support offered via the University of Plymouth and their partners, as well as highlight current sources of funding available.
To join future broadcasts, visit www.facebook.com/groups/virtualpopupcentre and become a member. For more information about ATI² and their other business support services, visit www.aticornwallinnovation.co.uk.