Cardiff Metropolitan University's Centre for Student Entrepreneurship has been awarded for its work in assisting students, graduates and staff to engage in entrepreneurial education.
The Guardian newspaper's Higher Education Network awards panel highlighted the centre staff's record in providing support, guidance and expertise to current students as well as alumni in starting up their own innovative and successful businesses.
The Centre for Student Entrepreneurship (CFSE) was established in January 2013 and works with students from across all five of the University's academic schools, with employability being at the crux of all work carried out there. The department is funded by the Welsh Government under the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy South East Wales Higher Education Hub. The Hub is one of six Regional hubs established and funded by Welsh Government to drive it's commitment to encouraging youth entrepreneurship in Wales.
For the academic year 2014-15 alone, 64 extra-curricular events have been scheduled with every student making use of the centre allocated a business start-up manager to advise on extensive business planning from funding opportunities to practical advice on supply chain dynamics and interaction with local businesses, industry professionals, entrepreneurs and charities.
Last year, which was the first full academic year for the CFSE, it engaged 1,187 students in extra-curricular entrepreneurship activities with 54 students and graduates receiving one-to-one business start-up advice and 17 student and graduate start-ups being established. The Centre's five-strong team was awarded internally with Cardiff Met's 'Team of the Year' award during the same academic period.
This year, CFSE invested £6,000 in six new student start-ups, including a clothing brand and an innovative app development company.
Innovative activities regularly carried out by CFSE and available to all students include test trading, business start-up workshops, flash investment funds and 24 hour challenges.
The Centre has also raised the profile of entrepreneurial education across the University's institutional strategies, including the new Enterprise Strategy and features heavily in Cardiff Met's Corporate Strategic Plan.
Speaking about CFSE's skills development programme Ignite, Carys Hughes, a third year Events Management student, who has attended a number of CFSE initiatives, said: "It was really beneficial, especially with helping to develop my team working skills. I'm quite independent and like to be the leader but my goal was to improve my team working skills and let other people have their say. It was an invaluable experience for me and it opened my mind to new ideas and concepts."
Student Julian Wreford has benefitted from one to one support and funding to establish his business, app-development company Wired Voltage. He successfully pitched for investment at Countdown to Launch in June and said: 'It was really great to see so much enthusiasm and drive for new business ventures - a truly inspiring experience. I would like to thank the team for this outstanding event, which I felt was completely relevant for me.'
Professor David Brooksbank, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) and Dean of Cardiff School of Management said: "This is a fantastic award for a fantastic team, led by Natasha Hashimi. As a University we have placed a heavy emphasis on entrepreneurship being at the heart of the support and development opportunities that we offer to all of our students and recognition on the national stage proves that their work is leading the way in a vitally important area."
The University's Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Antony J Chapman added: "It is rewarding to see the work carried out by the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship recognised with such a prestigious national award. The University consistently strives to equip our students with as many tools for employability as possible, and the Centre has developed innovative and very efficient schemes to assist in this."