From solicitor to soap award-winner

Grimsby’s Ascent Bath & Body is one of several North Lincolnshire enterprises looking to grow their business by bidding for grant funding of £10,000.

The company, which creates handmade bath and body products, was set up by former solicitor, Michelle Davies, in 2018. Following a course in soap-making, Michelle’s lecturer was so impressed with her ideas, fragrances and product themes that he took her to one side and suggested she set up business. Ascent then went on to win a Theo Paphitis Small Business Award, giving the business a springboard to even greater growth.

The opportunity to pitch for £10,000 worth of grant funding came as result of Michelle Davies taking part in an Accelerator progamme being run by the University of Lincoln and funded by the ERDF. The Productivity HUBs Programme, which is delivered online and is free to attend, is aimed at businesses looking to grow and consists of a programme of mentoring, workshops and business support.

“I had no direction and really didn’t know where I was going with Ascent. I’ve never written a plan for the business before and this part of the Programme has been amazing,” said Michelle Davies, “It’s been a real eye-opener and changed my thought process and mind-set completely. I now have a bold vision and a slightly less bold vision – I just need to decide how ambitious I want to be!”

Five other North Lincolnshire businesses are also bidding for grants: Little Box of Hygge, which sells boxes of ‘joy’ from its website that include Lincolnshire-made products, all of which are sustainable and environmentally friendly; Barton-upon-Humber-based Grayton Limited, that provides mechanical, structural and pipework engineering products and service support for clients in the cement, steel, oil, food and chemical industries; Scunthorpe’s Fabulous Furniture Company, which creates rustic and unique timber tables, benches and dining sets as well as pieces made from reclaimed materials; The Wild Shepherdess, a first-generation sheep farmer, selling sheepskin products and accessories; and chandelier and light manufacturer Exquisite Lighting.

The companies will be notifed on Friday 23rd July if they’ve been successful in being awarded the grants.

The next Accelerator programmes are being run in September 2021 and January 2022 and are aimed primarily at logistics, transport, advanced engineering and manufacturing businesses. Successful participants in the Accelerator programme will receive support and advice from some the county’s best known business leaders and experts who will deliver workshops on everything from strategy to business planning and marketing.

The eight-week programme, which is delivered virtually and only needs a commitment of four-five hours a week, culminates in a business being to apply for a seed fund grant of up to £10,000 to help it grow.

The Productivity HUBs programme, worth over £300,000, is part of a wider Productivity Programme aimed at SMEs across Greater Lincolnshire, which will run until June 2023 and has two options: 12 hours free business support for any SME in the county; and an Accelerator programme aimed at logistics and transport businesses, and advanced engineering and manufacturing businesses across Lincolnshire.

Interested businesses are encouraged to apply straight away as there are limited places left on the next two programmes. For more information or to apply, please visit or email

To keep up to date with this and future programmes, follow Productivity HUBs on LinkedIn.

Notes for Editors

  • The Productivity HUBs Programme is a University of Lincoln initiative, funded by the ERDF, and delivered by a range of industry experts, consultants, mentors and advisors. The Programme is aimed at helping businesses, including start-ups, in Greater Lincolnshire (with a focus on those in and around Scunthorpe, Boston and Grimsby) to develop, grow and thrive.
  • The Productivity Hubs Accelerator Programme is ideally suited to businesses that have been running for about 1-3 years and that work within the logistics, manufacturing and advanced engineering sectors.
  • The Productivity Hubs programme is part of a wider University of Lincoln Productivity Programme. This latter programme is aimed at SMEs across the Greater Lincolnshire region. For information:

Media enquiries: Lesley Pashley, Nettl of Newark & Grantham T: 01476 249030 M: 07816 84249