Take industry players who see market gaps they cannot fill, recruit talented graduates into teams of four, add technology experts, mix them all up in a hothouse environment and what do you get? LAUNCHPAD, a new way of incubating high growth Tech start-ups that completely reverses the way business and universities normally work together.

Launchpad is Falmouth University’s award winning post-graduate business Incubation and Acceleration programme, which literally builds new companies to meet high-value, high-growth markets.

The Launchpad methodology takes a radical approach to business incubation as it builds companies in response to a specific, known market demand. Instead of starting with an entrepreneur and their idea, Launchpad begins with the customer and their market challenge.

This approach significantly reduces the high failure rates associated with traditional business startup models. From concept to incorporation, incubation and acceleration, the whole operation remains highly responsive to market demand. Launchpad brings real-world industry challenges right into the heart of higher education and capitalises the greatest asset a university possesses – its raw student talent.

By aligning highly skilled graduates and the University’s RD&I infrastructure alongside a bespoke package of business support, this innovative education programme nurtures entrepreneurial talent, creates high-value jobs and draws investment into the region for the long-term benefit of students and the local economy. Over a 12-month period Launchpad students undertake a specially designed MA in Entrepreneurship programme, which uses the business of setting up a new business as the learning vehicle.

“It is inspiring to see what Falmouth University is doing. The UK games industry in renowned for its highly skilled workforce and Launchpad is central to incubating the next wave of talented game creators. It is the student developers of today that will influence the games industry of tomorrow, Launchpad is at the heart of this talent investment.”

 Luke Savage, Senior Academic Development Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Industry partners are attracted to Launchpad because it enables students and businesses to work together at the disruptive edge of technological innovation. This is important as it is recognised that the success of any new technology is directly related to the quality of its interface.

Launchpad has creativity at its heart and its students use gamification and interactive design processes to develop new types of interfaces capable of building bridges between for instance, ‘Big Data’ and ‘Human Factors’. The fact these new to market solutions are often capable of being applied in a number of high growth sectors, ranging from space and aerospace, marine-tech, agri-tech, to e-health and well-being has proved highly attractive to Tech investors. As a result Launchpad has been a catalyst for additional new inward investment into the region.

Launchpad is also about economic regeneration. Falmouth University is committed to playing a central role in supporting new knowledge-based jobs and skills across Cornwall – a County where the GDP is just 64% of the EU average (2011).

Launchpad is now about to expand significantly. Building on its successful ERDF/HEFCE funded pilot project delivered in 2014/15, in 2016 Falmouth University secured a further £12.8m investment (£9.9m ERDF and £2.9m from local partners) to deliver a fullscale Launchpad programme, which will create 526 high value jobs and 65 high growth companies by 2023.