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Turn your brilliant idea into a successful business


Got a great idea but need help to make it real? Navigating the first steps of setting up your own business on your own can be a challenge.

Through our four pioneering new interactive modules – DABS Labs, DABS Pioneers, DABS Teams and DABS Sprint – together we will work to set up the best possible blueprint for your business opportunity.

Whether those challenges are about start-up finance, your first customers or market strategy, the DABS programme has been designed to give ambitious individuals like you the support and guidance they need to start and grow their business.

Don’t take this journey alone. Register for DABS >

Photo of a new business owner

How DABS helps pre-start businesses

  • Fully-funded business start-up programme

    Fully-funded business start-up programme

    To help you turn your ideas into real commercial possibilities.
  • Tailored programme inclusions

    Tailored programme inclusions

    Innovative and interactive group workshops to make sure you get relevant guidance and insights for your situation.
  • 1-2-1 support and mentoring

    1-2-1 support and mentoring

    Bespoke support with an experienced business advisor.
  • Connect with like-minded new entrepreneurs

    Connect with like-minded new entrepreneurs

    To aid collaboration and support across County Durham.
  • Insights from sector experts and contacts

    Insights from sector experts and contacts

    To build your network across the North East region.
  • Guidance on new opportunities

    Guidance on new opportunities

    To help you seize market advantage in your new start-up.
  • Access to the online digital portal

    Access to the online digital portal

    To provide you with useful tools and resources to support your business.
  • Entry to the ‘Festival of Enterprise’

    Entry to the ‘Festival of Enterprise’

    Your chance to learn from keynote speakers and other successful start-ups in the region.

DABS Pre-Start Support

DABS Labs Logo

Got an exciting early stage business idea?

Need help developing it for maximum success?

DABS Labs is for you!

If you have the seed of an idea or you are at an early stage of start-up, you can join the innovative DABS Labs. With the help of other prospective business owners, our expert facilitators will help you explore your business idea in more detail and turn it into a more rounded concept.

Explore DABS Labs

DABS Pioneers Logo

Got your business plans set up?

Almost ready to launch your enterprise into the higher echelons?

DABS Pioneers will fuel you with extra expertise!

If you are closer to launching your business, DABS Pioneers will help you to develop your business plans further to understand how you will scale your business and attract investment.

Explore DABS Pioneers

DABS Teams Logo

What are your strengths that will make your enterprise fly higher than others?

Want to make your enterprise stronger together?

DABS Teams will challenge you.

If you believe collaboration and a strong team will be key to your business’ success, DABS Teams will help you explore the opportunities open to you.

Explore DABS Teams

DABS Sprint Logo

Are you are serious about starting up an ambitious business?

DABS Sprint will help you launch and scale your new business in just 28 days.

The DABS Sprint is an intensive, but bespoke 28-day fast track start-up programme designed to take you from an idea to being business ready over a 4 week period.

Explore DABS Sprint


  • Jeni Smith

    “The DABS programme has been fantastic, working independently from the comfort of my own home during lockdown has been invaluable.”

    “I’ve had access to a great source of support and being able to get feedback on ideas, have someone to hold me accountable when needed, and the access to courses and information has just been amazing.”

    Jeni Smith, Networking Knowho
  • Mark Wong-Jan 2021 (1) (1)

    “I heard about DABS through an e-news piece on entrepreneurs and got in touch to see what help I could get from them. I have absolutely no business background and founds DABS offered good programmes, online training and network events.”

    “I particularly like these events because everyone is very helpful and generous in sharing their experiences – what worked for them and what didn’t.”

    Mark Wong, Impossibrew
  • Clare from Aniseed

    “I have met so many lovely people through the DABS programme. As a freelancer working on my own, it has given me colleagues that I can call on for advice, as we have access to one-to-one mentoring.”

    Clare Lavelle, Aniseed Creative
  • Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups

    “Thank you for organising such an insightful Master Class. I definitely enjoyed it and have signed up for all the rest of the Master Classes over the next six weeks. It is so refreshing to see an organisation so passionate about helping entrepreneurs!”

    Mikali Sapani
  • Jeni Smith

    “I’d recommend any eligible business takes advantage of this fantastic programme – you literally have nothing to lose and so much to gain!”

    “It’s helped me define my ideas, create new opportunities, and focus on my future plans for business growth.”

    Jeni Smith, Networking Knowho
  • cropped-dabs-rocket.png

    “It’s fantastic that DABS helps grow entrepreneurs with ethics, sustainability, and SDGs in mind! While reading about it helps me ponder ethics, talking with others and being in a community of like-minded people works best. It was a pleasure being with everyone this morning. Thank you!”

    Marieshka Barton
  • Clare from Aniseed

    “When you’re starting up, you’re juggling a lot, wearing so many hats and it was overwhelming in the early days. The support I’ve received from DABS, being able to ask about anything I don’t know, has been keeping me on the right path.”

    Clare Lavelle, Aniseed Creative
  • Jeni Smith

    “I’ve had access to a great source of support and being able to get feedback on ideas, have someone to hold me accountable when needed, and the access to courses and information has just been amazing.”

    Jeni Smith, Networking Knowho

Joining the DABS pre-start programme

Am I eligible?

To join the DABS pre-start programme, you must:

  • Be a resident of County Durham looking to launch a business in the County Durham region.
  • Be committed to the challenge of setting up a new business.
  • Have the drive, capability and desire to grow your business rapidly.
  • Be willing to be challenged and explore opportunities to help you build the best business possible.
  • Have a high level of business integrity.

Sound like you? Register your interest in the programme >

Not for you?

Already started your business? Check out the DABS programme for early stage businesses.

Not the right time? Contact our team to discuss your options.

Looking for tools and tips to help your business? Explore our free business resources

Ready to start your business?

Take the first step in turning your business idea into reality.