The Wales Student Market is an online platform providing students and graduates from across Wales the opportunity to showcase their products and services. The market was developed in direct response to Covid 19 and the realisation that Covid restrictions were set to hamper plans for a traditional Christmas market. It was originally created as a substitute to the traditional market but due to the success of the platform, continues to operate as an ongoing project.
Development and Delivery
How was it funded?
The project was funded by Welsh Government under the Big Ideas Wales youth entrepreneurship service in Wales, part of the European Regional Development Fund. It was led by was led by Rifhat Qureshi from the Enterprise and Start up team at Cardiff University.
Were there any partners?
The project bought together the 23 Further Education and Higher Education institutions throughout Wales and Welsh Government.
What were the obstacles (if any) and how did you overcome them?
The major obstacle was the timeliness and suitability of the market in readiness for the launch during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Communicating the project fundamentals across all stakeholder groups was paramount. This was overcome by working closely with the web developers, design team and the institutions involved to ensure the deadline was met and effective marketing campaign was created.
The annual Christmas Market, organised throughout Welsh colleges and Universities, gives students the opportunity to test their business ideas and sell to a potential customers. On realising these events was cancelled due to Covid restrictions, many student start-ups felt disheartened and disappointed. The online Wales Student Market offered students the motivation and skills to continue with their business ideas offering them a space to continue to sell and test despite the restrictions. The platform currently hosts over 150 student and Alumni businesses and has received over 8000 visitors since it’s launch.
The impact has also been felt by the partners involved with more student engagement throughout Wales. Due to the collaborative nature of the project, there has been a very positive impact on the relationships of those involved in the project. The platform required upskilling and adapting to the changes in new operational practices.
The impact of student engagement was measured using an online JISC feedback survey. Of those who respondent, 40% reported it provided real entrepreneurial experience and made them want to continue with their business idea. Almost 50% of student vendors “felt a more inspired” by the market. Additional comments included: “A great site to showcase great small businesses” Elliot
In addition to student impact, interviews by the project lead to gain feedback from the institutions involved. All reported a positive rise in student engagement and a raised awareness of the enterprise support package for their institutions.
Cardiff University is committed to student and staff innovation and entrepreneurship in our five-year strategy (2018-2023). Typically, Cardiff University’s most high-profile start-up and spin-out successes come from biomedical, life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. The Wales Student Market has been valuable in providing students and staff from arts, humanities, and social sciences disciplines more relatable examples of start-up – in contrast to innovation-driven case studies often used by the university. The ongoing success of the platform will act as a showcase and motivate more students to feel able to pursue entrepreneurial ambitions in creative and lifestyle industries.
The Wales Student Market is here to stay! Following the success of the launch at Christmas, the website has now been updated to reflect a more general theme as it continues to attract more vendors. It has number of new features and pages that will be added as the site continues to grow. The collaboration across the 23 Welsh FE and HE institutions continues to develop with more exciting and impactful projects aimed at building the next generation of enterprising leaders.
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