90% of start-ups fail and more than 50% of these are within the first five years. Why?

Many say it is a result of a lack of innovation and development, however, many start-ups are unsuccessful due to a failure to forecast their overheads properly. One option to help resolve that issue and remove some of these financial overheads is to become a business incubator.

A business incubation programme allows start-ups to occupy space or to use resources to help boost their growth, whilst being sponsored by an established company. Incubators are a fantastic way to keep start-ups on track for growth and resources such as internet, space, and computers are often provided, to allow a focus on the core business.

Pearson Business School, part of the FTSE100 organisation Pearson Plc, encourages its students to be entrepreneurial, innovative and to think outside the box. To help inspire students, Pearson Business School launched a Business Incubator Programme, an opportunity for a new edtech startup to move into its campus in Holborn, London, for 12 months. The initiative encouraged an entrepreneurial mindset by having a start-up located within the heart of Pearson Business School. It gave students an opportunity to learn directly from them about what life is really like as an entrepreneur and the reality of life in a start-up too. The Access Platform (TAP) competed against other edtech organisations, to become the first incubator company.

Helping a startup like The Access Platform build their business from inside Pearson Business School was a unique and rewarding opportunity for both parties.

TAP helps universities engage with prospective students through their student ambassadors online. It is a platform that connects prospective students to student ambassadors from their chosen universities to hear first-hand what it’s like to study and live there. Helping a startup like The Access Platform build their business from inside Pearson Business School was a unique and rewarding opportunity for both parties. Not only were students able to learn more about entrepreneurship, TAP were also given the opportunity to gain direct feedback from students, so ideas and innovation were nurtured and were able to flourish.

The Access Platform have joined a number of team meetings and shared ideas to help drive innovation for Pearson Business School’s student recruitment activities. Current students were given a first hand insight into life of a start-up organisation and the institution’s graduates benefitted from networking with TAP at events and were able to share innovative ideas. The incubator also has the potential to influence and improve other Higher Education institution’s approaches to student recruitment too, as it’s findings are transferable to the rest of the sector, to improve the overall student application experience.

The Access Platform got involved with an App design module, studied by a number of Business Management students and they held weekly 20 minute seminars with them; students were given a sneak peek into what goes into creating an app, the testing process and how to gather user feedback. TAP also designed hackathons, held scholarship workshops sessions and were on hand to speak with students on a daily basis, to give them insight into life as an entrepreneur. Having an edtech start-up based at the heart of Pearson Business School’s campus helped to create an environment that shapes entrepreneurial mindsets and created a community to share advice.

TAP, occupied the space for just over a year, recently moving out due to rapid growth. Multiple universities across the UK now use this service to create a customer to customer marketplace between students. Co-founder of The Access Platform, George Olesen said:

“Pearson Business School is a hotbed of ideas and energy. As a Start-up in Residence on the Business Incubator Programme, we benefited from the students’ skills in our business by providing internships, projects and in-class sessions. Meanwhile, the students learned about working in a start-up from us and, more informally, we advised many students on the early stages of setting up their own start-ups.”

The start-up gets the added bonus of having free space to grow until they have the stability to expand; there’s no costs, no equity stakes and no unwanted interference, all that is asked of them is for them to donate a small amount of their time each week, to help students learn about the realities of life in a start-up.

Championing entrepreneurship and the collaboration between universities and industry is a mutually beneficial experience.

Since TAP outgrew their space within Pearson Business School, a new Start-up in Residence have joined: Mammalo, occupying the space on an interim basis. Mammalo, born from the need to expedite the search for services, provides an easier and better alternative to the old-fashioned yellow pages. With its growing database of service providers, Mammalo connects London’s population with verified experts from different sectors. From a personal trainer to a DJ, Mammalo brings services straight to the customer’s home.

Will Holt, Dean of Pearson Business School, said: “We are committed to providing opportunities for collaboration between SMEs and Pearson Business School students and staff wherever possible. The recent growth of the The Access Platform has opened up a short-term opportunity for Mammalo to contribute to our educational space and I am delighted to welcome two of our alumni back to Pearson Business School through this initiative. Our current students will be selecting the next long term incubator residency over the coming months and we are so pleased that Mammalo can benefit from the space in the meantime.”

Exciting times ahead; the relationship with both TAP and Mammalo demonstrates the benefits for both start-ups and universities. Championing entrepreneurship and the collaboration between universities and industry is a mutually beneficial experience. Helping start-ups to flourish is beneficial for all parties and universities can play a vital role to make that happen.