Swansea University launches new Student Incubation Hub

On Monday 13 November Swansea University opened the doors to its Student Incubation Hub which aims to provide a solid foundation on which talented and ambitious students can develop their ideas and launch new businesses.

The Hub was officially opened by Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor of Swansea University, and Caroline Thompson, CEO of Be The Spark.

To coincide with the launch of the Incubation Hub, students were invited to deliver a 90-second elevator pitch to a prestigious judging panel where they competed for space in the Incubation Hub. With prizes including a £1,000 market report, office space, start-up cash, publicity and mentoring, the event provided students with a unique opportunity to gain access to funding and support, and network with a wide range of individuals that can provide support in developing and growing businesses.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “I am delighted to see our Welsh Universities playing a lead role in encouraging entrepreneurship in Wales. This outlines the importance of close collaboration between academia, business and entrepreneurs to encourage business start up and growth, making a clear contribution to our vision for Wales in “Be The Spark”.

“Swansea University’s dedicated Hub for young entrepreneurs is the perfect environment for nurturing these business ideas and offering the support students will need during the infancy of their business plans. By drawing support from Business Wales’ Big Ideas Wales, today’s students can develop the business acumen to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions.

“Our vision of a more prosperous nation, with better jobs and more vibrant communities, is one that resonates across the country, and facilities like this can only go to help in stimulating economic growth.

“The Hub will connect the forward-thinking people and organisations of today to create the innovative businesses and products of tomorrow, helping to bring jobs, growth and prosperity to the community.”

Ann Swift, Big Ideas Wales; Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Swansea University; JAnn Swift, Big Ideas Wales; Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Swansea University; Jackson Pickard, Swansea Entrepreneurs Network; Caroline Thompson, Be The Spark.

Ahmed Nagy, from Swansea University’s College of Engineering won hot-desking space following the pitch of his business idea: knowledge Transfer Neurons – Science for Impact and Value for Knowledge.

Ahmed said: “Today has been an excellent start for any entrepreneur looking to turn his/her idea into practice.  Following today, my advice to any other student considering taking part in Global Entrepreneurship Week would be: Pitching your business idea is very critical if you really want to make your business come to life. You might feel embarrassed but don’t be embarrassed. You might be anxious but this is normal and healthy. You might feel that you don’t have the full space to present your idea comprehensively; however, be quite sure that a well experienced panel of judges can catch the point of your pitch. Just be confident of yourself, be honest, be realistic, and be yourself. If you believe that you can do it, you will do it. So please do it to gain it.”

Supporters of the student pitching competition and Swansea University’s Student Incubation Hub include the Welsh Government via the Big Ideas Wales initiative, Be The Spark, Innovate UK, Development Bank of Wales, Santander Universities, ION Leadership and Swansea University’s Employability Academy.

Ceri Jones, Director of Research, Engagement and Innovation Services, said: “To grow and prosper as a region, it is essential that we attract, nurture and retain the very best talent here in Wales. In addition to office space, we are providing students with support from members of our Commercial Services team.  With professional backgrounds in industry and commerce, the team is well placed to support our students in developing their business ideas and connecting them with potential collaborators and investors. I’m very much looking forward to supporting many of the ideas presented today over the coming years.”

Big Ideas Wales is the support service for young entrepreneurs aged five to 25, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Jon Howden Evans, Head of the Swansea Employability Academy, said: “Today's launch is a step change in the way Swansea University supports our students to excel and stand out from the crowd.  Working in partnership with the Students Union, Santander Universities and colleagues across the University, Swansea Employability Academy's drive to develop the entrepreneurial mindset will have tangible benefits for all our students, which will in term have a positive impact for the many organisations we engage with.”

Entrepreneur and founder of Swansea University’s Entrepreneurs Network, Jackson Pickard, said: “Throughout my time at Swansea University, I’ve received substantial support from Big Ideas Wales, Santander and Swansea University staff in developing my entrepreneurial skillset.  With the launch of the new Student Incubation Hub, which has been a long term goal of mine, we can create a real community for likeminded entrepreneurs to congregate – signposting students to the range of support available, whilst offering access to the facilities, equipment and expertise required to establish and develop new business ideas.”