The search is on for 10 innovative Dartford businesses looking to grow, with two companies set to benefit from a support package worth up to £25,000.

Managed by Oxford Innovation, the Pioneer 10 programme is aimed at entrepreneurs and business owners. As Pioneer 10 is 100 per cent funded, the free growth-coaching programme includes workshops, online tools and one-to-one support.

Matthew McLarty, innovation director at Oxford Innovation, said: “We are looking for businesses that are innovating within their industry – they don’t have to be technology-based. It can be anyone who seriously wants to grow their business either in or near Dartford. Online registration is now open and joining the Pioneer 10 community is simple.

“Once registered, you can access our library of online tools but the 10 businesses with the most potential will go forward to receive the highly valuable one-to-one support from our experienced experts.”

Two of the 10 ‘Pioneers’ will then be selected by a panel of judges for a long term, high value, high impact business support package. This year, choosing the final two is down to Linda Marsh, director of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce; Graham Harris, managing director of Dartford Borough Council; Paul Andrews, entrepreneur and CEO of; and Paul Weston, senior vice president of Prologis.

The £25,000 package includes: one year of business coaching from an Oxford Innovation expert; a half day consultation with leading branding experts SO – The Agency; time, expertise and state-of-the-art facilities including prototyping and testing, 3D printing and CAD design at The Leigh UTC; and free office space for one business for a year at The Nucleus Business and Innovation Centre, Brunel Way, and much more.

As part of the programme, a free half-day workshop entitled ‘Breed success through employee ownership’ is taking place from 9.30am – noon on Wednesday, May 25 at The Nucleus. It will be delivered by Peter Matthews, partner at Capital for Colleagues, who is an expert in employee-owned businesses.

The workshop will cover how to raise funding, how to encourage employees to become more committed and will look at why employee-owned businesses can deliver greater sales, productivity, innovation and profitability.

Pioneer 10 is open to anyone of any age and experience, providing they are either a resident, or plan to or currently run a business in or near Dartford.

To find out more about the programme or to register for the workshop, visit or call 01322 312004.