As another academic year draws to a close it's a good time to reflect on what the Centre for Entrepreneurship has achieved over the past year and to look forward to where we'd like to be in the future.
This has been a year of significant change for the Centre. We've dramatically increased the number of workshops and events that we offer and we have provided one-to-one start-up support to more students than ever before. We've also had some internal changes – our manager Natasha Hashimi (Entrepreneurship Education Manager) has been on maternity leave since November last year following the birth of her son Alby (who is completely adorable by the way!).
We've also had a name change and logo change – we are now the Centre for Entrepreneurship as opposed to the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship. Of course, supporting students is still a huge part of what we do but this year we have extended our offering to graduates by providing a start-up incubator and tailored support for graduate start-ups and we wanted a name that reflected this.
Our new incubator facility, which opened in January, offers free office space for 10 graduate businesses as well as on-going support and mentoring from the Centre staff. Since January we have also taken on five graduate entrepreneurs within the pilot scheme of our ideas accelerator which has been delivered by Simply Do Ideas.
We have also bid farewell to our colleagues in the School of Management as we have moved to a new office in the Student Union building (alongside our new incubator). This has presented us with great opportunities to work more closely with the Student Union and we also benefit from a fantastic central location where students can drop in at any time to discuss their business ideas with us. Of course we still regularly visit the School of Management to use the classroom facilities and for roast dinners in the Atrium Café!
Finally, we have just delivered our fourth Countdown to Launch programme in which eight new graduate start-ups have received a share of our £10,000 prize fund (sponsored by Santander). The winners will also be offered a place on our accelerator programme and access to our incubator. This event was the perfect end to the academic year and it was really encouraging to see so many fantastic business ideas and so much passion and enthusiasm from the graduate start-ups. On a personal note, this was the first time that myself and my colleague Steve had been able to sit in on the pitches which took place on the final day. I have to say I was blown away by the exceptional quality of the pitches and the business ideas that were presented. I'm really excited about working with the eight winners and the other attendees as they grow and develop their businesses.
So that brings me on to the future plans for the Centre. We'll be working hard over the summer to plan the next academic year calendar of events and activities. We'll be continuing to run some of our popular activities like Mingle and our start-up workshops but we'll also be introducing some new events including live projects and some collaborative events with the Careers department. The next cohort on our accelerator programme will be joining us in July and we'll be looking to offer the incubator co-working space out to more and more students and graduates from September.
It's an exciting time to be working at the Centre and I personally can't wait to see the fantastic businesses that came out of Countdown to Launch grow and develop. One of our Countdown to Launch winners has already landed a fantastic contract with their first client (which just happens to be Cardiff Met!) since last week. I'm confident that this rate of success will continue for her and the other start-ups and I'm excited to share their journey with them.
Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator