Tech start-ups, business incubators and £16.5m enterprize zone help UWE earn award nomination

Issue date: 03 November 2015

Team Entrepreneurship

A strong focus on fostering an entrepreneurial spirit among students has seen the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) win national recognition.

Prowess in encouraging enterprising behaviour – including helping students launch their own companies – has earned UWE a nomination for a prize at next week's National Business Awards 2015.

UWE is one of 10 higher education institutions shortlisted for the Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship, a new category in the prestigious annual awards sponsored by Lloyds Bank.

Designed to inspire and measure university commitment to entrepreneurship, the award focuses on the level and quality of enterprise societies, use of alumni entrepreneurs, small business internships and the extent to which the careers service offers start up advice.

UWE prides itself on equipping students with the skills needed to start businesses and helping them develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Scores of start-ups founded at the university have become highly successful organisations exploiting gaps in the market or creating ground-breaking products and services.

UWE will compete for the title on Tuesday November 10 alongside institutions including the University of Exeter, University College London and the University of York.

Kim Brookes, UWE's Entrepreneur in Residence, said, “It's really great we are in the last 10. This is the first year we have entered so we're not sure how we'll do.

“I'm really excited – there is a commitment at a senior level at the university to focus on entrepreneurship and put more resources into it. It is high on the agenda.”

Kim said UWE's strength rested in its diversity of entrepreneurship initiatives – from helping students form businesses through The Factory (which provides extra-curricular activities), funding, desk space and support, the innovative Team Entrepreneur degree programme, embedding entrepreneurial content into new academic modules and the development of tech start-ups in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). A £16.5 million University Enterprise Zone is under development at Frenchay Campus and an in-house crowdfunding platform has been launched to help students get their start-ups off the ground.

Over the past three years, UWE has invested £120,000 into social entrepreneurs and £55,000 into entrepreneurs.

Providing supporting for 300 entrepreneurs each year, it has developed partnerships with regional and national organisations such as Unltd, Santander, RBS, RSA, Bristol City Council and Bedminster Town Team.

The incubator at BRL, based at UWE's Frenchay campus, saw its first cohort of eight start-ups raise £1.5 million of research and development funding in their first 16 months.

The application for the award says UWE the is one of Britain's most enterprising universities, with a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship amongst its students, alumni and staff. Deki, Call of the Brave, Growing Support, Brisfest, 7 Bamboos Rugby, Frank Water, and The Hound Haus are examples of recent social ventures started by UWE entrepreneurs. They have paved the way for the awarding of funding for the collaborative development of GoodLab Southwest.

Now in their 14th year, the National Business Awards are a flagship programme recognising and rewarding excellence across all sectors of business.

Winners will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London at a ceremony to be attended by 1,200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and media representatives.

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