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How's Business, the Growth Hub for York, North Yorkshire and East Riding

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There's lots of funding for innovation - are you doing something different?

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Within York North Yorkshire and East Riding, there’s support available for businesses looking to grow, including funding for innovation. Innovation in business is often wrongly defined and shouldn’t be mistaken for invention. You don’t have to recreate the wheel, or build extraordinary technology to be innovative. Sometimes it’s just about finding a problem in your market then developing a simple but new product to solve it. Living Salads, a horticultural business that delivers trays of leaves that are still growing to their customers, are a prime example of this.

Anna Johnson from Living Salads says “most big ideas start with tiny roots and our salads began life in our little greenhouse” and this perfectly sums up how to be innovative.

Whilst living in Portugal in early 2000, Anna and Andrew Johnson had the luxury of plucking their salad leaves straight from their garden. When they returned to the UK, they missed this level of freshness and were disappointed by the limp, chlorine washed leaves available to buy in bags.  They began growing lettuce leaves in their greenhouse, and again enjoyed a truly delicious salad and wondered could this fresh leaf experience be recreated for other consumers?

This is what led to the creation of Living Salads, the first business in the horticultural industry to bring living baby leaves in growing trays to the market. This way, their customers would receive products that are as fresh as the day they leave Anna and Andrew. With no delay between harvest and consumption, powerful antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals stay at optimum levels – a great selling point for their product.

More importantly, not only can innovation be great for marketing, it can also make your business eligible for useful funding. For example, if you’re interested in capital investment then you may be able to get support from the programme, Product and Process Innovation. This is a 40% grant, from £8k up to £20k, which could help your business to purchase new equipment and machinery. Without innovation in your business, your project wouldn’t make the cut for this programme and you’d miss out on those extra pennies.

So, don’t be put off by the word innovation. Living Salads have done it without creating an expensive, ground breaking process. This success came from the simple idea that Anna and Andrew wanted to bring something fresher to market, and they’ve seen some great success – by April 2005, Living Salads was being sold into a large supermarket and steadily growing since. To be innovative then, you should understand your target audience and their needs, find an issue that they may have and then solve it. If you’ve got demand for your innovation then it’s more likely to succeed.

If you’ve got a simple idea, you might be surprised by how innovative it is and what support is available to help you develop it. To find out more, get in touch with us via support@howsbusiness.org