New enterprise hub wins major support

July 19, 2019

Businesses and enterprise organisations are lining up to pledge financial backing and support for Northumbria University’s new incubator hub for graduate start-ups

Innovation Northumbria: Incubator will open in October as a pre-accelerator for aspiring entrepreneurs. Located next to the university’s main campus, the state-of-the- art facility has already received support from Santander Universities UK, The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Sir James Knott Trust, North East Times Ltd and Space Group. A series of high-profile fundraising events in Newcastle, London and Amsterdam were sponsored by Gardiner Richardson. The Newcastle-based brand communications agency is also providing mentoring support to incubator students.

Northumbria is now looking for additional support to set up an Enterprise Club, where members can offer pro-bono advice and expertise, and an Enterprise Fund through which they can pledge financial support to help fledgling start-ups develop proof-of-concept and feasibility business plans. And it has already received substantial backing.

The Agile Business Consortium – a global leader in helping businesses become more agile in their responses to opportunities and threats – became one of the first to sign up by pledging £24,000 to the Enterprise Fund.

Chief executive and Northumbria alumnus John Williams says: “Northumbria has an impressive track record of graduate enterprise, and we are delighted to offer our support to help ensure this continues. All businesses need to be nimble, swift and creative in order to succeed in today’s uncertain world – and this is especially so for start-ups. Our aim at The Agile Business Consortium is to help them by reaching out with ideas and solutions, connecting and sharing across sectors and international borders. As funders of Northumbria’s new incubator, we are fulfilling this role.”

Another Northumbria graduate and successful entrepreneur to back the initiative is Danielle Sinclair. Speaking at the London launch event, she said: “Being an entrepreneur can be tough and it is therefore important that you surround yourself with people who encourage, inspire and support you. This is even more important for start-ups in those early years in business when you are unsure about yourself and your ideas. The Northumbria Incubator is a long-awaited project, which is so exciting. I can’t wait to get involved and help to foster those future entrepreneurs.”

Fellow graduate and business owner Mark Renney, co-founder and director of software systems business Wubbleyou, added: “An incubator like this creates a community and
a space where like-minded people can come together to learn and benefit from each other. It will offer great networking and opportunities for start-ups to absorb all the advice and knowledge they can under one roof.”

Adding a regional perspective, Alan Welby, innovation director at the North East LEP, said: “Innovation is central to our strategic economic plan for a more productive North East with an internationally competitive business base, and this includes providing the best environment for creative start-ups. Northumbria University is leading the way in supporting students to take the first step to set up and drive their own businesses. Creating the right environment for students is vitally important and this new incubator should create a dynamic and energetic hub for new entrepreneurs who in turn can become the wealth and job creators of tomorrow, which is why we’re backing Innovation Northumbria: Incubator and providing financial and strategic support.”

John Duns, director at North East Times, who spoke at the Newcastle and London dinners, said: “North East Times is delighted to be involved with this important initiative to help business in our region. The area needs entrepreneurs and we fully support your efforts to foster, mentor and help develop new start-ups.

“As a North East-based business, North East Times has utilised – and continues to utilise – the skills of creative people from the region – skills which have been facilitated and developed by institutions such as Northumbria University.

“Several members of our team are graduates of the university, including key people in our editorial and marketing departments.”

Developing the Incubator reinforces Northumbria’s reputation as a university that champions enterprise and innovation through its teaching and the support it offers start-ups through the Student and Graduate Enterprise Service. Pioneering courses such as Entrepreneurial Business Management, where students run their own businesses, and the student-led consultancy service delivered on the Business Clinic programme, have also established Northumbria as a leader in entrepreneurial education.

The initiative also comes as Northumbria once again tops the UK university rankings for graduate start-ups based on turnover.

Lucy Winskell OBE, pro vice-chancellor for employability and partnerships at Northumbria, reflects: “We want to build on this top-ranked position in the UK and become the best entrepreneurial university in Europe. As a purpose-built workspace with access to a range of support and mentoring services, our new incubator will help us take this to the next level, and I would encourage those who have been successful in business to support our Enterprise Club and Enterprise Fund.

“We are extremely proud of our entrepreneurial students and graduates and the significant contribution they are making to economic growth, social prosperity and, indeed, jobs. Their success is down to remarkable creativity, drive and innovation, but it also reflects the focus we have as a university on entrepreneurship, both in education and research and the support we offer.”

Northumbria University

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