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London's universities say ‘OpenSME’ to new support for capital's small businesses

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.

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UCL students win £8000 Award in NACUE competition

21 November 2012

Students from the UCL Enterprise Society have won £8000 at the NACUE New Frontier Awards.

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The Awards – which aim to change the way university enterprise societies develop and grow, and reward entrepreneurial ambition – are given to societies needed to invest in significant, pioneering projects which need a large quantity of seed-funding to get off the ground.

The team, from UCL won the Award with their idea of bridging the gap between students who have an idea ready to get off the ground and UCL Advances’ Bright Ideas Awards, with a project to provide students with small amounts of funding to further develop and test their ideas before approaching the university’s centre for entrepreneurship for formal support.

To win the Award, the team has to submit a two minute video and a business plan providing an overview of their idea, followed by a pitch against five other teams. The UCL Enterprise Society, along with a team from the Royal Agricultural College – who were awarded an investment for their company Muddy Wellies – were crowned the eventual winners.

The UCL Enterprise Society team hopes to actively support ten projects by undergraduate students over the next academic year and to create three society-led ventures. Projects the team are already supporting include the Brainchild music festival, a fashion start-up by a student from Tanzania and a student wishing to start their own fashion show.

“This investment fund will give students the opportunity to produce a prototype, or build a minimum viable product, and validate their ideas before taking the next step and seeking further investment and business expertise from UCL Advances,” said Investment Fund Director, Edvard Nore. “We have already started work on finding prospective students and ideas to invest in.”

The idea behind the fund, he says, was simple. “Currently, there is no middle ground between our Ideas Drop In Sessions and the UCL Bright Ideas Award. So, we did what any entrepreneur should do and found a way to solve the problem ourselves.”

Director of UCL Advances, Timothy Barnes, praised the award. “What is great about the Award is that the team spotted an area where they knew from experience students needed support and have successfully won funding to address it. I’m looking forward to seeing many more interesting businesses coming through the pipeline as a result.”