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Kent: Innovation to Incubation- extra-curricular entrepreneurship education

EEUK member organisation

University of Kent

Contact name

Sophie Taylor-Gammon

Contact email address

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Description of the initiative

The Hub for Innovation and Enterprise, is the University of Kent's dedicated resource for student entrepreneurship, ideas generation, start-up guidance and incubation; providing support to students, staff and graduates wishing to start up their own company. The Hub compliments the enterprise agenda within academic schools and the growth of the student start-up journey through a variety of additional extracurricular services.

Development and delivery

At the Hub, student, staff and alumni entrepreneurs access inspirational support:

  • access to sector specific mentors;
  • free business advice sessions; 
  • seminars, exhibitions, conferences, and weekly entrepreneurial workshops; 
  • interactive online module; and
  • compete in skill enhancing competitions including ones around stimulating business ideas

The Hub utilises the experience of the team to determine exactly what form, intensity and duration of support the entrepreneur will benefit most from, seeking additional support if required. 

The activities are varied and diverse, and have been selected to enthuse, nurture and develop entrepreneurs through the different stages in their entrepreneurial journeys.

  • Concept stage

Encouraging ideas generation through student activities: competitions; weekly start-up workshops; and inspirational conferences.

  • Development stage

Business planning supported by the Hub team, advisors and mentors. Assigning new start-ups a mentor to provide regular meetings, reviews and investor readiness. 

  • Launch stage

Regular business model reviews, strategic business planning assistance and support from a large and varied range of professional mentors who have expertise in different sectors.

  • Growth stage

The Entrepreneurs in Residence are introduced to angel investors, and receive global/international support through the Hub’s staff, mentors and business network.

Impacts

The Hub recognises individual student ideas are unique – one size support does not fit all. Student start-ups are nurtured from business concept to business launch and beyond.  

The Hub incubation offers a flexible professional working environment to our Entrepreneurs in Residence with ongoing support to for the start-ups.

The Hub business failure rate is much lower than the national average increasing the long term survival rate of the business.

Since 2010: 124 jobs companies have started trading from the Hub, this has resulted in 182 jobs created and over £6m contributed to the local economy. 

The impact of the Hub is also seen in the number of start-ups who having successfully graduated and moved forward with their business return to offer support to new student, staff and alumni and activities linked to the Hub.

Impact measurement

The Hub team runs an audit annually to determine: 

  • how many businesses have started trading;
  • how many jobs have been created from these businesses;
  • how much turnover have these businesses generated.  

Alongside the data collected, the Hub team also values student, staff and alumni feedback on from the Hub activities. 

In the 2015-2016 academic year there were:

  • 158 business advice sessions
  • 256 student participating in the online module
  • 166 students entering entrepreneurial competitions. 
  • 24 companies were started with the Hub’s support.

Entrepreneurial organisation

The Hub is the University of Kent’s dedicated resource for student, staff, and alumni entrepreneurship education and start-up support.

The Hub team work alongside the academic schools, faculties, and the Institutions strategic plan to ensure that entrepreneurial education is accessible throughout the organisation and that future entrepreneurs at all levels can receive business start-up support. 

The Hub sits within Kent Innovation & Enterprise (KIE),the University’s dedicated business engagement department.

KIE’s role is to build strong links between research and business, to better develop, support and create high-growth enterprise working with many organisations from student start-ups and academic spin outs to regionals and multinationals through a variety of projects.

Next steps?

Due to the increasing interest from UK and EU Universities with in the Hub’s Student Enterprise activities and Start Up journey, long term plans include opening up the support. This is envisage to be provided initially to partner institutions, with a view to eventually support all graduate of UK institutions.

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