Photo of Katie Rigarlsford

Katie Rigarlsford has worked at Leeds Beckett University for the past 13 years, running its business centres and business incubation support.

Jo Kelly of Campus PR says “Katie is one of life’s genuine connectors of people, which is so helpful to the [230+] businesses based at the University Business Centres.

She’s passionate about business, knowledgeable and charming – a real human dynamo – and has been instrumental to many businesses’ success.”

Who will it help/who has it helped already?

Since Katie was appointed, the University Business Centres have helped to create over 800 businesses and 1600 jobs. These businesses collectively contribute more than £42 million p.a. to the Yorkshire economy. 

Collaboration is important to the team, who have set up:

  • a Digital Hub in Leeds in partnership with Johnston Press (The Yorkshire Post) 
  • a Creative, Fashion and Textile Hub with 230 year old textile manufacturing company, AW Hainsworth to support early stage businesses
  • a free-to-join Innovation Network in Leeds, in partnership with The Yorkshire Post to give business access cutting-edge research from within Leeds Beckett University, allow them to connect with other businesses, and hear from speakers to inspire innovation within their own business

The Enterprise Team at Leeds Beckett University has also secured funding through a collaborative AdVenture bid to help over 300 SMEs across Yorkshire to set up and accelerate their business growth.

Two new University Business Centres across the Yorkshire Region will be established to help increase business and job creation. 

Importantly, they will bring University services and expertise closer to parts of Yorkshire that don’t currently have a University presence to give a boost to skills, aspirations and attainment in those areas.  

Katie is a Trustee for regional charity, Yorkshire Mediation, and has recently been appointed an SME Ambassador for The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

What’s worked?

The Business support delivered through the University Business Centres is proven to give early-stage businesses a 95% chance of success (typically early stage businesses only have a 50% chance of success).

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

Under Katie’s leadership, the team strives for customer service excellence and supporting business success, delivered collaboratively with other organisations and intermediaries. Current partners include the Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Johnston Press, Local Authorities, professional service firms and experienced business advisors. Partnerships are key.

What’s next?

The team looks forward to working with a range of partners to expand its University Business Centres and Innovation Network across Yorkshire. Through the AdVenture programme, its mission is to provide business support that makes an impact and drives new business (and job) creation, economic growth and skills enhancement within the Yorkshire region. 

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

The team is looking for partner organisations who would like to collaborate to support the growth of its business centre clients.


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