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Guidelines for Acknowledgement of UCL “Supported Student Business” Status

Introduction

One of the key targets of UCL’s Enterprise Strategy 2011-15 is actively “supporting” 100 new businesses per year (500 in total – the “UCL 500”) emanating from within the institution. The bulk of these led by students, and therefore this comes under the remit of UCL Advances, the centre for entrepreneurship.

This document is intended to outline the definition of “supported student business” and other aspects of related activities.

Principles

Student businesses will be supported if:

  • They have a credible business idea;
  • They are committed to its execution;
  • The risk to UCL’s reputation is deemed to be low;
  • Sufficient resource is available in UCL Advances
Criteria for a Supported Student Business

To be classified as “Supported” a business needs to:

  • Be a registered business (typically a Limited company and/or HMRC registration);
  • Be led by a UCL student or recent graduate;
  • Be compliant with UCL ethical policies (eg UCL investment policy), and in keeping with UCL’s values;
  • Have confirmed there is no likely risk to UCL intellectual property;
  • Have completed a written business plan demonstrating the basic viability of the business;
  • Have achieved at least one of the following, all of which require assessment of the plan and the founders commitment to starting a businesses and in so doing so to have participated in the “Student Ventures Programme”:

    • Entry to the Hatchery pre-incubation space;
    • Won a prize through the London Entrepreneurs Challenge;
    • Received a Bright Ideas Award;
    • Received significant advice and guidance given by the Student Business Advisors (≥ 6 h);
    • Received equity investment from UCL (through UCL Angels, UCL Business or the Next Generation Investment Fund1);
    • Received a student entrepreneurship visa sponsored by UCL;
    • Participated in the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship (this is the only form of support included here that is not managed by UCL Advances).

Additional support schemes may be added to this list as new services develop. Details of all of the above support schemes can be found at:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/students and http://www.ucl.ac.uk/msi/study/technology-entrepreneurship

Each of the programmes given above is delivered by professional staff with relevant commercial experience. Furthermore, all options include long-term monitoring of the businesses, predominantly through on-going relationships with the Student Business Advisors.

Registration and On-going Contact

All businesses that are classified as “Supported” are to be listed on the UCL Student Business Directory to provide an open record of the companies. This can be found at:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/students/business-directory

It is important to note that the directory also records companies that have been assisted but have subsequently been closed down, not just those that are “live”. This is important as a record of what we have done.

This list is the basic record of UCL’s Supported Student Business metrics for the HEBCI survey and similar reporting requirements. For the HEBCI Survey, these are:

“Undergraduate start-ups should only be included where there has been formal business/enterprise support from the HEI… Start-ups can have any enterprise structure (for example not for profit, partnership or sole trader) and use any business model but there must be some form of registration (for example with HMRC) before they can be included in the survey.”

The above UCL definition meets this requirement.

Additional Support

Informal Support

No formal support is offered to supported businesses beyond that detailed here and in the specific terms of the support schemes mentioned above. Informally, considerable additional support is frequently offered where Advances and other parts of UCL can assist. This includes participation in the EPIC programme for student business trade missions in Europe, participation in the HELO and SMILE programmes and reduced rates for Advances events and training programmes. This is offered on a case-by-case basis by the Director and Deputy Director of UCL Advances and the Student Business Advisors.

Promotion of Supported Companies

Where appropriate, significant developments by Supported Companies are promoted through UCL’s press and media channels including the UCL Enterprise web pages, UCL News and UCL social media. The UCL Enterprise Media Officer may also assist with drafting and promoting media materials.

Risk Management

Use of the UCL Brand

Supported student businesses are not allowed to use the UCL brand as part of their identity. Factual references to awards, prizes and other references are permitted.

Reputation Management and Adherence to Ethical Standards

The Student Business Advisors will assess the activities of the student business at outset.

Should the subsequent activities of any Supported Company be deemed to provide any risk to UCL’s reputation, knowledge of the activities should be directed to the Deputy Director of UCL Advances and then the Director, who will have the final authority on the decision to support the business.

Complaints and Dispute Resolution Procedure

In the event that co-founders or others within a supported a company have a dispute with others within that company, help can be offered to find solutions. In the first instance, this is offered by the Student Business Advisors then the Director. However, an arbitration process has been established for resolving the most serious matters. This involves an external adjudication panel to ensure fair treatment.

Non-supported student businesses

It is important to remember that UCL Advances actively supports only a proportion of the businesses started by students in their time at UCL. By our estimate, it is probably only 50%, but this could be wildly inaccurate as much of the evidence is anecdotal and we cannot hope to capture all of the student activities that do not approach Advances for support.

Adopted by the UCL Enterprise Steering Committee, 26 September 2012

1 To be launched in 2013 and which will allow for investment from alumni, departments and others