Sustainability Young Entrepreneurs Scheme
- University of Nottingham
- Date first submitted:
- 26 Nov 2009
- Date last modified:
- 25 Mar 2011
- Personal effectiveness
- Enterprise-related activities
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
- Research staff
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
Sustainability YES has been designed to encourage an entrepreneurial culture amongst researchers, and raise awareness of the processes involved in the commercialisation of research ideas. The programme is based on the highly successful ‘Biotechnology YES’. The broad theme of ‘sustainability’ was chosen to provide a similar opportunity to those researchers outside of the biotechnology sector, and to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.
The scheme consists of a half-day introductory event, during which cross-disciplinary teams of 4-5 researchers are formed, and ideas generated for an imaginary start-up company. A 3-day residential course is held 3-4 weeks later, and teams receive training and mentoring from academic staff and the members of the local business community to produce a business plan. Finally, the teams present their plan to a judging panel to compete for a travel prize.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
There are no pre-requisites. However, participants are expected to commit to both the half-day introductory event and the residential event, which takes places approximately 1 month later. During this interim period, teams are expected to clarify their business ideas and carry out some market research.
The pilot session was held in July 2009, and 17 researchers participated. The scheme could accommodate a maximum of 7 teams (up to 35 participants) in it’s current format.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
Participants benefitted from the experiential learning process, cross-disciplinary team-working and the opportunity to learn from and network with speakers from industry and business. Comments from participants included the following:
“We know how to market ourselves”
“I learnt financial skills, I learnt how to make a business plan, I learnt how to control emotion, to work in a team”
“This has been an international team. We had at one time four different nationalities in one five man team. To be able to be put into that environment is hugely developing and rewarding”
“Even business students would have so much to learn from speaking to VC’s, entrepreneurs, and for scientists it’s great because I didn’t know any of that- I’d learnt it all from Dragon’s Den ”
“The opportunities for learning are vast here”
The Graduate School benefitted from the development of new relationships with external organisations, all of whom are keen to support future activites.
A challenge was the recruitment of suitable speakers and mentors. The programme required speakers and mentors with expertise in finance, IP and marketing, as well as successful entrepreneurs who had build companies which fitted with the ‘sustainability’ theme. Numerous local businesses were contacted directly, and appropriate University staff were approached for suggestions. The final programme included 15 external speakers, mentors and judges, all of whom volunteered their time out of enthusiasm and support for the programme.
· We are planning to open the second competition a small number of institutions, with a longer term vision of rolling the scheme out nationally.