Business Plans Become Virtual Reality For Gaming Centre As Grants Help 50 Firms

Business & Invest | Published on: 3rd August 2021

A Tees Valley gaming centre is just one of 50 businesses which has benefitted from a grant scheme helping small businesses to start-up, take on people and grow.

The Start Up Scale Up scheme has directly helped to create 100 new jobs across the Tees Valley, with more than £500,000 in grant funding already paid to early-stage businesses, with £610,000 earmarked for investment in total.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen welcomed the news and applauded Thornaby’s Gaming Hideaway for its innovative approach to education and supporting the region’s young people.

The Gaming Hideaway works closely with local schools, colleges, universities, and children’s services to provide unique educational learning development opportunities through virtual reality software and equipment. It also hosts regular autism events and runs a ‘Get Up Saturday’ campaign to provide new and unique opportunities to underprivileged children across the region.

Opening its doors in May 2021, The Gaming Hideaway accessed a £10,000 grant to directly support the creation of two new full-time roles, alongside practical advice and support to help develop a business plan and prepare the financial forecasts needed to get the business off the ground.

The business already employs 17 full-time employees, including apprentices, and two part-time members of staff, with plans in the pipeline to grow the team even further.

The Gaming Hideaway’s Director, Rachel Crooks, said: “The funding and support from Tees Valley Business has enabled us to grow The Gaming Hideaway more quickly than we would otherwise have been able to. It directly supported the creation of two full time jobs – a receptionist and a keyholder/assistant, both of whom are local to the Tees Valley.

“The team helped us to access grants we never even knew existed. This has been instrumental in supporting the funding of the start-up costs of the business and helped to mitigate the risks involved in setting up any new business.

“The grant was also instrumental in supporting the creation of the business overall, and we plan over the next year to grow our team even further with the appointment of an Assistant Manager and two Supervisors”.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The Gaming Hideaway is yet another fantastic example of the innovation our brilliant local businesses are known for. In less than three months of trading the business has already created 19 local jobs and is bringing new, valuable experiences and opportunities to our young people and local community.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy and as we continue to recover from the impact of the coronavirus its more important than ever that our budding entrepreneurs have access to the funding, advice and support they need to start-up, grow and create jobs.

“I’d call on anyone with a budding business idea to take advantage of this funded support through our fantastic Tees Valley Business service.”

Through the scheme, anyone with a business idea who has not yet started to trade can access expert advice to develop their business idea. Grants are awarded directly by the number of new jobs forecast, with start-ups able to apply for £5,000 per job created up to a maximum of £10,000.

For more information about the start-up business support available through Tees Valley Business, visit

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