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Two projects helping to revive town centres in South Warwickshire have been given a boost by WCC's £80k Town Centres Tech Challenge fund -part of the Council’s rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tech Challenge fund, launched by the County Council in November 2020, is supporting three digital initiatives (two in south Warwickshire, one in North Warwickshire) which boost support for town centre businesses.

This initiative is part of a broader range of financial support for business to stimulate Warwickshire's economic recovery.

The two South Warwickshire projects to receive funding are:

Myndy (My Independent), Warwick, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth

Myndy is receiving funding of £31,600 to help speed up the development of a new digital gift voucher platform that makes it easy to create a wishlist of your favourite local, independent businesses, services and trades to share with friends and family.

When a gift voucher is purchased from Myndy, the money goes directly to the local business.  Gift vouchers are easily exchanged in store using the Myndy app.  It’s a no set-up cost, low transaction fee system, that helps local independent businesses compete with global online giants.   

Myndy brings local businesses together with those who want to help keep their local business communities alive. Unlike many other voucher schemes, almost anything can be added to a wishlist, as long as it comes from a local, independent business, shop or tradesperson.  This includes services that you might not typically think of as gifts – from cleaning, gardening and decorating, to a haircut, a chiropractor or physiotherapy appointment,  or simply buying someone a coffee at their favourite café.

Myndy is being developed by a small team of local creatives and developers based in Leamington.  The pilot project covers Warwick, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth, but the aim is to expand the project to cover independent shops nationwide.  

Liz Katz, project lead, says: “We are very grateful for this cash boost from Warwickshire County Council. We are passionate about encouraging people to keep buying and spending locally to ensure our favourite businesses make it through these extra tough times. Instead of an Amazon wishlist, why not make a Myndy List – for birthdays, Christmas, weddings, new arrivals, friends, family or colleagues, or just to share your favourite local businesses and services in one place.” 

For more information visit https://www.myndy.co.uk/faqs/

LYT (Local Young Talent) Festival, Leamington Spa 

Creative Leamington received funding of £23,608 for an innovative arts festival which will take place in Leamington later this year. The project will see reopening shops hosting the work of local up and coming artists in their windows, as well as empty units being used for installation pieces. The festival will use an interactive map of the town centre, linking the public to the art, installations and offers from participating stores.

Creative Leamington successfully piloted the concept in the run up to Christmas in an empty shop in the Royal Priors Shopping Centre and are the team behind the transformation of Leamington's Spencer Yard Car Park which became an open air street art gallery last summer, collaborating with Brink Contemporary Arts.   

LYT has longer term plans to include other cultural activities such as performances, music and film, with the aim of bringing entertainment and excitement to the high street when lockdown restrictions are eased.  

Martina Bussi, Director of Creative Leamington, says: We can't wait to bring LYT Festival to life. Leamington is bubbling with young, creative talent and we want to share this with the public. Our overall goal is to make the High Street an attractive, active and engaging space for shoppers to return to, and to offer our brilliant high street stores support as they start to recover from the most difficult of years. LYT will have a fresh take on how we see our retail spaces, both occupied and vacant, while giving a central, visible platform to our young artists and creatives.”

For more information visit: https://www.creativeleamington.co.uk/

The project supported in the north of the county is Maybe* Loyalty Rewards.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio holder for economic development, said:  “Businesses in our town centres were already facing difficulties before the pandemic, but now those difficulties have dramatically increased. We need creative solutions to help invigorate our town centres when it’s safe for people to return, and to encourage online support during lockdown and beyond. The good news is, we have a wealth of creative digital know-how and expertise in our region, which we can harness to support of our brilliant independent businesses. I’m delighted to see projects like LYT and Myndy carving the way forward.”

The Town Centres Tech Challenge fund was set-up after a business survey undertaken by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) identified the need for digital products which help support and promote town centres, engage existing and new customers and improve consumer confidence in returning following the end of the current national lockdown.

Published: 23rd February 2021