As part of the USW Careers team, Student Enterprise has been working hard to plan and deliver the best support possible to our 2020 graduating cohort.
The team are providing a range of guidance and advice, including accurate labour market information, a professional digital persona, and several interventions supporting enterprising students to position themselves positively ahead of graduating.
The Bright Ideas Den (BID) judging panel
Within a day of the UK-wide lockdown being in place, the team were running one-to-one business surgeries from their homes; and by day two, the 15 shortlisted students expecting to pitch face-to-face at the planned Bright Ideas Den event on 30 March were given tips on how to prepare and submit video pitches.
By day three, Student Enterprise had instigated – and now chairs – an online pan-Wales Summer Start Up Week, bringing together all HE and FE institutions in Wales to ensure students and graduates with entrepreneurial ambitions receive the support they need to continue developing and testing their ideas.
The team’s own enterprising skills have been tested over the past few weeks, including moving the Bright Ideas Den (BID) online. From 40 initial applications, judges reviewed the shortlisted video pitches and supporting business plans, awarding £1,580 across six USW student and graduate business ideas. The winning concepts ranged from videography to interior design, and each applicant was given detailed feedback on their idea, business planning and pitch.
Judges included Big Ideas Wales mentor Sian Davies, and USW alumnus Richard Pollentine, founder of Sober Drinks Ltd.
Joining the judging panel for the first time, Richard said: “It’s great that USW is supporting entrepreneurial people with great ideas and from what I have seen, there could be some very successful businesses that come out of the Bright Ideas Den.
"It’s vital, now more than ever, to support young businesses, as they are hugely important to the economy and should continue to be encouraged”.
The USW Enactus team also presented digitally in their first national competition on 7 April. The showcased projects focused on cyber security, transgender equality and rallying students to support residents affected by the Pontypridd flooding earlier this year. Enactus judges commended them for their efforts.
Edward Jones, Enactus USW President has since nominated Enterprise Officer Jonathan Jones as University Advisor of the Year.
He said: “Jonny has been an integral part of our team across our projects – giving advice and a voice of reason when needed. He has helped keep the team together and on track, supporting our ideas into reality, as well as helping members of the team who want to start their own business.”
The USW Enterprise Review 2019 has also been published, which highlights the enterprise activity and achievements of Student Enterprise and the Startup Stiwdio over the past year.
Emma Forouzan, Student Enterprise Manager at USW, said: “Our USW start-ups are facing a tough time. Not all will survive, but already we have seen examples of resilience, innovation and changing business models.
“Existing and new start-ups will play an important part in rebuilding the economy, and Student Enterprise will be here to support them. Alongside Alumni and the Startup Stiwdio, we have been sharing the latest funding schemes, competitions, training and resources across our student and graduate network.”
Still to come this academic year:
Emma added: “For any student taking the first step into the unchartered challenges currently facing start-ups, freelancers or the labour market in general, it can be hard to see the opportunities. However – as the inspirational Captain Tom Moore has showed us – an idea mixed with determination can lead to something special; it starts with challenging yourself to take the first step.”
Student Enterprise, part of USW Careers, supports students and graduates taking the first steps into freelancing or starting a business through mentoring, training, funding and networks. More information on these services and the incubation services available through the Startup Stiwdio is available at startup.southwales.ac.uk.