A group of London's universities are launching a new collaboration – OpenSME – that seeks to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access the expertise and knowledge they offer.
Next generation of UCL Bright Ideas Award winners announced
11 September 2013
The next generation of UCL’s brightest entrepreneurs have been announced following the award of over £45000 in funding – as well as comprehensive packages of support – to take their businesses to the next level.
The businesses – drawn from UCL’s own MSc Technology Entrepreneurship Programme and from the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge programme – pitched to a panel including Director of UCL Advances, Timothy Barnes, who also founded the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge eleven years ago.
In a first for the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, the programme – which is open to students from selected universities across London – was run this year as a summer programme in tandem with UCL’s usual summer school programme for its own students, in addition to the usual season during autumn last year.
A programme of both core and optional workshops and events was available for participants to develop their skills, including networking opportunities, sessions on marketing and branding, how to raise finance and business planning.
Participants were required to brainstorm ideas in the early sessions of the challenge, get themselves into teams to hone product and service ideas and, from there, begin testing and validation.
Pitching took place over two days to a panel of judges including Dr Dave Chapman from the department of Management Science and Innovation and Deputy Director of UCL Advances Gups Jagpal.
The winners of Bright Ideas support packages include EventCourt, a business started by UCL student Jonny Mansfield, who secured £8500 in funding for his idea for an app which filters and promote events from across campus to students, with the intention of capitalising on wider appeal following testing.
As well as funding, winners of the support package gained access to intensive 1-2-1 mentoring, space in the UCL Hatchery and access to further training opportunities through UCL Advances.
“With these awards, the total of loans offered by UCL to its students to help start businesses has topped £500,000 over the last four years,” says Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances. “There can't be any other university in the UK that is showing that level of commitment to entrepreneurship or that much faith in its own students. They, and their ideas, are remarkable. I am proud of all of them.”
“It was particularly pleasing so see the high standard of entries from students who are completing UCL’s MSc Technology Entrepreneurship programme,” added Dr Dave Chapman, programme director for the MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship, who was on the judging panel.
“The programme offers a comprehensive education in both the technical and practical aspects of starting a digital business and with both that and a comprehensive support package behind them, I’m confident that this is just the beginning of great things for those who’ve shone.”