THE first standalone university-based business incubator in Wales has been opened by a Welsh Government Minister.
Lee Waters AM, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, officially unveiled the plaque on the new facility – the Startup Stiwdio (Stiwdio Sefydlu) – which has been established in the former Students’ Union at the Cardiff Campus of the University of South Wales (USW).
The facility aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship among USW’s student graduate and alumni population, and provide a safe haven in which they can test and develop enterprising ideas.
With financial support from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales’ (HEFCW) Civic Engagement Fund, the Stiwdio will provide pre-commercial incubation facilities to graduate-led SMEs over the next five years through the provision of 18 desks, three offices, and hotdesking space for up to 20 individuals.
At a cost of less than £6 per day, businesses will be able to stay at the incubator for a maximum of 12 months with the aim of then helping them to move to other co-working sites within the Cardiff Capital region.
All those based at the Startup Stiwdio will be supported through USW’s entrepreneurship strategy part funded by the Welsh Government. This will include access to programmes such as the 5-9 club, USW Start-Up, and Start-Up Days. In addition, all tenants will be registered on the incubator bootcamp, which is an intensive programme of start-up support for new firms based at the Stiwdio.
While all business ideas are welcome, the Startup Stiwdio will focus on supporting creative and digital businesses to maximise the links with USW Faculty of Creative Industries, which is also based at the Cardiff Campus.
As part of the process to encourage links with external firms, a number of organisations – including fast growing Bridgend firm United Worldwide Logistics and the major TV producer Bad Wolf – are offering enterprise scholarships to cover the full annual costs for graduate entrepreneurs. A range of other businesses are also offering free advice, mentoring, and support to those at Startup Stiwdio.
Mr Waters said: “Our Economic Action Plan is committed to developing an entrepreneurial culture here in Wales, with a focus on supporting young people from school, college and university to make that transition to starting a business.
“The Startup Stiwdio provides sense of place for entrepreneurs and complements the wider network of hubs supported by Welsh Government in Valleys and more rural communities, alongside those within the private sector.”
The incubator is the brainchild of Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship at USW. He said he believes that the links being created with others operating within the local entrepreneurial ecosystem will help boost enterprise within the University.
“The Startup Stiwdio demonstrates yet again that entrepreneurship is at the heart of what we do at USW,” Prof Jones-Evans said.
“More importantly, we are not doing this alone and I am delighted that not only do we have local entrepreneurial firms stepping up to support our graduates, but that businesses such as NatWest and OrangeBox have also contributed furniture for use at the Startup Stiwdio.
“This means we can focus our resources on supporting those young people who want to become the entrepreneurs of the future.”
There are still funded scholarship places available at Startup Stiwdio for entrepreneurs interested in applying for a place at the facility. More details are available from Richie Turner on [email protected]