UWE Ventures incubator wins national seal of approval

Issue date: 15 February 2011


Support for the creation of new enterprises at the University of the West of England (UWE) has been given a double endorsement by UKBI, the leading professional body on the development and support of business incubation environments. UWE is the first University in the South West to receive this honour.

The UWE Ventures® business incubator offers affordable space in central Bristol, along with professional support and mentoring, to budding entrepreneurs with bright business or social enterprise ideas. Along with UWE's innovative early-stage pre-incubator support for students, staff and graduates, Ventures® received the resounding accolade after a two-day visit in November.

Head of Innovation at UWE Dr David Brennand said, “UWE Ventures is the first business incubator in the South West to be accredited by UKBI. This means UWE is a member of an elite body within the UK, a great achievement for our team.

“In a first for UWE, UKBI also gave its seal of approval to our early stage pre-incubator support such as the Coffeemat ideas challenge, on-campus enterprise advice at the Ideas Factory, and theBizIdea new enterprise competition. UKBI thought these were really innovative methods of encouraging students and staff into enterprise activities.”

The UKBI Inspire accreditation programme has three levels of accreditation - foundation, developing and leading edge. UWE Ventures has achieved overall the middle level of 'developing,' which is fantastic for such a young incubator.

Peter Harman, Chief Executive of UK Business Incubation said, “UKBI are delighted to recognise the good work that UWE is doing in supporting and growing new business. The Inspire accredited status recognises the quality of the business support being offered and we look forward to continuing our work with UWE to ensure their centre remains at the forefront of business support provision in the South West.”

UWE Ventures Business Incubator (UVB) was established in February 2009 with the objective of supporting knowledge-based businesses among students, alumni, staff, and other businesses. The Early Stage Enterprise and Innovation programme has been developed in parallel to support the University's employability agenda, recognising that today's graduates are likely to have knowledge-based, portfolio careers which may include the need for support in self-employment and company formation. This programme includes its extensive provision of support for idea planning and enterprise development.

David Brennand continued, “The INSPIRE accreditation process enabled us to work with UKBI and our clients to evaluate and challenge our support processes. We are extremely happy to have achieved recognition from UKBI, via INSPIRE accreditation, of our commitment to achieve and improve the quality incubation service we deliver.”

Among the comments made in UKBI's report on pre-incubation support were:

“Our assessment of the enterprise programmes in place is that although they are comparatively young (less than 3 years old) they are well thought-out and currently meet the needs of the pre-incubation programme and the broader enterprise objectives of the University.

“It is by design quite a soft approach designed to encourage rather than force students into entrepreneurship. theBizIdea, Ideas Factory and Coffeemat Challenge meet the broader enterprise agenda of the university but also produce a steady pipeline of ideas/businesses that are worthy of further development and encouragement.

“The schemes and activities in place would be a good model for other Higher Education Institutions to implement in raising awareness of enterprise amongst the student body.”

Among the strengths of the UWE Ventures incubator, based at Bush House on Bristol's Harbourside, were the skills and experience of the incubation team, the networks that the incubator can utilise, the availability of grow-on space, the client needs assessment and monitoring of client's progress.

Enterprise Managers Jill Burnett and Kim Jones said, “We are particularly pleased with the endorsement for the UWE Ventures strategy and delivery especially in these challenging economic conditions where nurturing new companies is so vital.

“In the accreditation process many of our incubator clients whose ideas we have helped develop – from the Bristol Festival group and Clix event management to Coolboard and Karma Active community sports – were interviewed and we are very grateful for their input.

“Case studies of all of our clients, the benefits of UWE's enterprise support and how to access it can all be found at http://rbi.uwe.ac.uk/Internet/innovation

Ends

FFI: Jane Kelly or Mary Price, Press Officers

BRISTOL UWE

Tel: 0117 32 82208

 E-mail: Jane.Kelly@uwe.ac.uk or Mary.Price@uwe.ac.uk

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