A Welsh Government Minister has seen for himself the developments at the University of South Wales (USW) Startup Stiwdio (Stiwdio Sefydlu).
Lord Elis-Thomas, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, visited the facility – which has been established in the former Students’ Union at USW’s Cardiff Campus – and met the entrepreneurs starting new creative and digital businesses.
Stiwdio is the first standalone university-based business incubator in Wales. It aims to encourage and support entrepreneurship among USW’s graduate and alumni population, and provides 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 is providing 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.
Those based at the Startup Stiwdio are supported through USW’s entrepreneurship strategy, which is part funded by the Welsh Government. This includes access to programmes such and Start-Up Days and business networking events.
All entrepreneurs also attend a weekly business development bootcamp, which is an intensive programme of start-up support for new firms based at the Stiwdio, which includes elements of the Nesta Creative toolkit and the ‘Innovation Drill’ ideation toolkit from MIT.
Startup Stiwdio focuses on supporting creative and digital businesses to maximise the links with USW Faculty of Creative Industries, which is also based at the Cardiff Campus.
A number of organisations – including Bridgend-based United Worldwide Logistics – are offering enterprise scholarships to cover the first six months’ membership costs for graduate entrepreneurs. A range of other businesses are also offering free professional advice, including Capital Law, Mazuma accountancy, and UDL Intellectual Property
The Deputy Minister said: “I was delighted to visit Startup Stiwdio at the end of Entrepreneurship Week, and to see such an excellent facility at work.
“This is a great way to inspire tomorrow’s young entrepreneurs from our growing creative and digital sector and to support our ambitions for the industry in Wales.”
Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor of Entrepreneurship at USW, said: “The Startup Stiwdio is already demonstrating that entrepreneurship is at the heart of what we do at USW.
“Although only open for a few months, major links have already been created with others operating in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem to help boost enterprise within the University.
“Add to this the support we have already received from businesses such as NatWest and OrangeBox, we have been able to focus our resources on supporting those young people who want to become the entrepreneurs of the future.”
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.
There are still a few places available at Startup Stiwdio for entrepreneurs wanting help to start their business. Details can be found at startup.southwales.ac.uk