Loughborough University staff, students and alumnus came together on Tuesday (16 October) to celebrate the launch of The Start-Up Lab - a new and innovative incubator and training space for students and the local business community.
The exciting project has been made possible thanks to Santander Universities – the division that oversees the bank’s commitment to higher education - as it issued the University a grant of £50,000 through its Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund.
The funding has been used to create The Start-Up Lab’s headquarters – an open plan, vibrant co-working space in the Ideas Factory in STEMLab.
The Start-Up Lab will bridge the gap between the LSU Enterprise Hub – which encourages students to take part in enterprise-related activities and come up with new ideas – and The Studio – a unique initiative that supports graduate ventures.
The three support services form part of the Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN), which was launched last October to support students and graduates throughout their enterprise journey.
The Start-Up Lab will equip students with the skills and support they need to develop their businesses (idea or existing) into the ‘real deal’ and will offer invaluable workshops and clinics.
It will be open from 2pm, Monday to Friday, and will be overseen by Student Enterprise Adviser and alumna Dr Sophie-Louise Hyde, founder of The Student Wordsmith, who developed her business through The Studio in 2012.
Dr Hyde, who will also provide one-on-one support to budding entrepreneurs, said she would have “loved to have had something like The Start-Up Lab” when she was a student at the University.
Staff, students and members of the University community celebrated the launch of The Start-Up Lab.
As well as helping students, The Start-Up Lab will provide a training base for local businesses to embed key skills through student-led business clinics, such as Loughborough Students’ Union’s social media programme, which has already supported 80 companies over the past five years.
Loughborough University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Allison was among those celebrating the launch of The Start-Up Lab.
Speaking at the event, he said: “It is very much a part of the student experience to have the opportunity to take little ideas and grow them into what could be the next global brand. A big thank you to all involved.”
Robert Simmonds, Deputy Relationship Director at Santander Universities, was also in attendance. He said: “We’re celebrating our 10th year of partnership with Loughborough University, which is fantastic.
“We’re very pleased to have been involved in this project and want to continue to be an active partner.”
Matt Hutnell, Director at Santander Universities, was unable to attend the launch but also wished to comment: “We’re pleased that Santander Universities the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund will support such a great hub for entrepreneurial thinking and potential business growth.
“We’re delighted to be involved in this project and look forward to seeing the positive impact it will bring to both students and the local business community.”
The launch event also featured a keynote speech from Loughborough alumnus and Executive Chairman of Shazam Andrew Fisher.
He told students during his University visit: “Enjoy your time at Loughborough - you really are at the best place.”
The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Fund was created to enable universities across the UK to develop ambitious projects that deliver real economic, social and employment benefits.
Santander Universities now has over 1,200 university partners spanning across 20 countries. In 2007, Santander Universities was launched in the UK and now has partnerships with over 80 universities, providing over £10m of funding in 2017 to support university staff and students.