Merseyside’s Innovative Future Taken To Another Level
Through the thick clouds of financial and professional uncertainty, one organisation provided a most welcome two-year illumination of Merseyside’s innovative future.
That organisation was Another Level, formed as a subsidiary to its global parent Smaller Earth Group in 2013 with the sole purpose of cultivating the ideas and passions of the creative youth within one of Europe’s cultural hot spots.
In their two-year lifespan spearheaded by programme manager Mark Hodgson, Another Level arrived in a big way, providing guidance to 150 start-ups and over 1000 young people across the Greater Liverpool area – free of charge. Principally funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Hodgson and his team of specialist mentors were able to provide expert and dedicated assistance to the thinkers and shapers of a generation previously ignored.
By November 2015, Another Level’s contract with the ERDF came to an end with all of their committed start-up support passionately delivered successfully. However, renewal funding was not forthcoming, which led to the discontinuation of the Smaller Earth Group project.
“It was that spark of an idea, the thought of what could be that we were interested in. You just can’t understate the importance of that; it’s tomorrow isn’t it?” Explained Hodgson.
His belief in the projects success and relevance can be felt in every syllable that crosses his lips and with just cause. The sheer scope of the beneficiaries of the service gives testament to Another Level’s commitment across the board.
“There was a massive spectrum, from people with an idea of an idea that might turn into something in two years to those who were running marketing and social media agencies, organic juicery’s, the list goes on.”
“One success story was a company called JUXDIT, JUXDIT worked with us and a lots of other people. What they are is a crowd-funding consultancy that is about to launch an online platform providing a single platform where you can find products that people have invested in.” Continued Hodgson.
JUXDIT in everyway embody the spirit in which Another Level was created. They are powered by the innovation of local youth and propelled forward by their creativity and commitment to succeed.
“I suppose what we at the Smaller Earth Group really do, across the board is instill confidence within people. Whether we do that overseas or within the Another Level program we are telling people ‘you can’ so if that is the only thing they get from us, well then that sets them apart from a huge amount of people.”
As part of the ERDF, Another Level provided 12 hours of free consultation for start-up companies and continued to work alongside these companies in an advisory capacity within their online community –The Hub. Also, working closely with Robin Dooley from Innovators Hub an organisation that helps young people within the creative sector find paid internships.
2016 was envisaged as a huge year for Another Level, scheduled to provide a significant presence at the highly anticipated International Festival for Business to be held in Liverpool in June 2016. These plans have now been shelved – under the Another Level banner anyway, an organisation that will be sorely missed, but fondly remembered within the city.
Mark Hodgson on the other hand remains firmly committed to providing the light for all those armed with an idea and a passion and remains involved with many of the organisations he an his colleagues assisted during their short, but bright existence. With this in mind it feels right that the last word should be Mark’s.
“Commitment to the progression of young people is what we did and what I personally feel most passionately about, enough to commit my life to doing it.” Concluded Hodgson.
Words: Ryan Forde-Kelly
Smaller Earth Twitter: @SmallerEarth
Smaller Earth: www.smallerearth.com/uk/