Part of their mission in the Enterprise Team is to raise awareness and provide an introduction to entrepreneurship, encouraging ethical, sustainable and social enterprises that add value to others, by encouraging participation, diversity and experiential learning opportunities for our students.
The RWIF funding helped grow the Enterprise team from a one-person team to a four-person team, which has provided students at Swansea University more support in their enterprises. With thanks to the RWIF funding, the Enterprise team have engaged with 30,203 students during the 3 year RWIF period, raising awareness of entrepreneurship as a career choice, with over 14,886 of these learners being empowered to spot opportunities, drive change and positively impact industry with their entrepreneurial mindset and skills through enterprise activity.
The suite of extracurricular enterprise activities has been constructed to support the entrepreneurs at all levels on their start-up journey, and has been referred to by its users as the “hidden gem within the university” due to its extensive support which has led to 190 businesses to start (an increase of 680%), ranking Swansea University 2nd in Wales for producing start-ups (increasing from 7th place in 2018 and years prior). This is a result of their bespoke 1-2-1 business support which includes sessions with the entrepreneur in residence, mentorship programme with alumnus, opportunities to trade on and off campus, networking opportunities regional and their bi- annual flagship events such as; the big pitch competition and business bootcamps.
Over the past 3 years, over £192,756 has been raised from Alumnus donations, Santander Universities partnership and event sponsorship which has been awarded directly to support the establishment and growth of these 190 businesses.
Kelly Jordan, the Senior Entrepreneurship Officer at Swansea University, introduces what they have been able to achieve from funding from the Research Wales Innovation Fund (RWIF), which is a part of the Higher Education Funding for Wales (HEFCW); The support from the RWIF fund has enabled us to support graduates to go and start their businesses such as: Joe Charman of Pilot Plus, who launched Pilot Plus, an aviation simulator business in 2015.
"Entrepreneurship is a big point for me. I went to a number of UK universities and asked them what they do for entrepreneurship. Swansea had the best answer out of all the universities", Joe Charman.
Joe, a BA Business Management student 2016-2020, launched Pilot Plus, an aviation simulator business in 2015 and the company has continued to grow during his time at Swansea University. Joe recently completed his MA in Business Management.
The RWIF funding has helped Kelly and her team focus more on innovation-led businesses, such as post-graduate researchers and even staff and early-career researchers.
The team understands that students don't always start up their own businesses straight away, as they go and work for an industry instead, however in 5-10 years time they often realise that entrepreneurship is for them! From the Enterprise Team at Swansea University providing continued support in the future, it allows these past-students to gain the support to further understand how business works to help impact society.
The Enterprise team have worked with a wide-range of stakeholders, both in Swansea and around the world. With the Research Wales Innovation Fund, the team were able to support "Invent for the Planet", an Intensive Design Experience which engages students at different universities around the world and tasks them with solving some of the world’s most pressing problems in just 48 hours.
This year's 2023 competition held at Texas A&M University College of Engineering, saw four Swansea University students 'H2Grow' take first place out of a staggering 350 students from across 15 different countries, with their winning idea; a reverse-osmosis pump which can convert toxic river water into drinkable water for rural farming communities.
RWIF has provided the support needed to engage with the student community to help create innovative start-ups and support in the development of hackathons and accelerated programmes, helping students start up their businesses. The funding has further enabled the enterprise team to engage with the graduate community: offering a Graduate Support Programme with Business Butler. The team has put on a number of training courses and masterclasses to help set and run businesses.
In September 2022, Swansea University hosted the "International Enterprise Educators Conference", where 350 educators came to Swansea to share different best practices regarding business start-ups. This further provided the opportunity to showcase how Swansea encourages both staff and students to be entrepreneurial and consider starting up their own businesses.
Swansea University ranked in the Top 10 for Spin-Outs, expressing how the opportunities are truly endless for Swansea University staff and students. Thank you to the Research Wales Innovation Fund for helping support these incredible achievements.