As the academic year draws to an end, students can begin to look beyond exam dates and assignment deadlines to the summer break. For many students the summer represents a chance to earn some much-needed money for their return to study in September. It’s also a chance to reflect on what they want to do once the study-summer-study cycle stops.
The 21st century economy is a global marketplace, with emerging technologies driving new ways of working. For the recently graduated, thriving in this environment requires innovative ideas and an entrepreneurial mindset. How can higher education help them develop these?
Innovating Future Business
Alliance universities are hubs of student enterprise, offering many ways for students to gain the academic, technical, and professional skills they need to succeed in the fast-changing modern world. Our student enterprise competition, Innovating Future Business (IFB), launched in partnership with the University of Salford, is just one of them.
Last month, students from 11 Alliance institutions pitched their business ideas in front of a live audience to a panel of five investors for the chance win money from a prize pool of £5,000.
Through the competition, students learned the professional skills needed to approach an investor and deliver a successful pitch. After each pitch, the contestant had to deal with challenging questions from the investors, seven businesses won a share of the prize pot, including a Ugandan travel company, elemental roleplaying videogame and a child-friendly nail art bar.
IFB took place in Salford, one of the top five UK hotspots for growth. The University of Salford is contributing to this – uniting students, industry, and the wider community through its pioneering Industry Collaboration Zones programme. IFB formed part of this initiative, connecting students from across the country to the university’s industry partners, who, as well investing hundreds of pounds in Alliance student businesses, are offering mentorship and advice.
“This is a great opportunity for us. The competition gave us a platform and experience that few students have. We’re going for a meeting with our investor to see how to improve the app. It’s an exciting time for us!” – Zahid Tapas of Pathways, winner at IFB 2017
Alliance universities have a long and proud history of working with industry. Many of the courses at Alliance universities are co-designed with employers and offer students real-world experience through industrial placements.
Alongside this, they offer students crucial help to achieve their own business goals, recognising that entrepreneurialism is crucial to Britain’s long-term economic performance. Statistics published last month by HESA show that 40% of UK graduate start-ups still active after three years are from Alliance graduates. Overall, Alliance graduate start-ups employ over 9,000 people and turnover more than £300m each year.
“The University of Huddersfield’s enterprise placement team have really supported us on our journey. They give us great advice on registering as a limited company, composing business documents, trademarking, and much more. They’re very proactive in identifying ways for us to gain funding, which has resulted in us finding several funding streams to continue developing our videogame.” – Helen Andrzejowska of Ocean Spark Studios, winner at IFB 2017
IFB is the latest way in which we are preparing our enterprising students for success in today’s economy. You can watch a video of the competition below.