Turning businesses ideas into reality

Turning businesses ideas into reality

The Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network is helping to create a new generation of entrepreneurs

This case study orginally appeared on page 74 of the State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

Aston University has an outstanding record of fostering and promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship among its staff, students and graduates. One way in which it achieves this is by organising a range of initiatives to support the development of ideas; inspiring the individuals behind them to create businesses of the future. The flagship project is BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network).

BSEEN is an innovative business start-up programme led by Aston University in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University, and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Recent BSEEN success stories include:

  • Ben Smith, an Aston graduate, who has recently founded the company Frumtious, a health-conscious natural food company producing fruit-based snacks suitable for all diets and ages.
  • Christos Orthodoxou and Anisa Haghdadi, both Aston graduates, who set up Class Careers, an innovative organisation connecting young people aged between 16 and 19 with employers via webinars streamed into the classroom and through a focused recruitment website.
  • James Fedden, founder of the Cake Doctor, who produces high quality cakes, puddings and hot beverages, which are baked in house and sold from a converted vintage ambulance at festivals, markets and street food events.
  • David Bennett and Sam Jones, two First Class Computer Science graduates from Aston who founded Codevate, a software development company. They specialise in mobile and web application development and bespoke software, andengage with start-ups and small businesses to help them bring their ideas to life.

The project offers a diverse package of support to students and recent graduates at a time when many will see business start-up and self-employment as an attractive career option. BSEEN participants receive free incubator space, a business grant, extensive business training, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Since the second phase of BSEEN began in October 2012, more than 200 entrepreneurs have engaged with the programme, resulting in the launch of more than 75 new businesses.

Entrepreneurs who have participated in the BSEEN programme are quick to recognise the contribution that the scheme has made to the success of their business and to their own development.

Eleanor Watson is the founder of Poikos Limited, a company that uses innovative intelligent software that accurately records body measurements to deliver custom-fit clothing at affordable prices. She has recently secured £100,000 in seed investment from the Regional Growth Fund and believes BSEEN has been fundamental to Poikos’ success.

“The advice and support that we received from the programme team has been crucial,” she says. “I continue to enjoy the lasting relationships developed with my brilliant fellows in our cohort, and I will always be extremely grateful to BSEEN for providing me with the confidence and skills necessary to go and pursue my dreams.”

The current project will run until 2015, by which time 400 entrepreneurs will have attended one of the BSEEN two-day start-up workshops and more than 90 new businesses are expected to have been registered.

To find out more about the BSEEN programme is helping student and graduates make their business ideas a reality, visit www.b-seen.biz/

“The advice and support that we received from the programme team has been crucial. I will always be extremely grateful to BSEEN for providing me with the confidence and skills necessary to go and pursue my dreams.”
Eleanor Watson, founder, Poikos Limited

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