Applications are open for the second year of Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) startup accelerator programme, the only funded programme of its kind in the north-east of Scotland.
The programme is open to staff, students and alumni from both RGU and North East Scotland College (NESCol) and aims to support the diversification of the regional economy through the yearly creation of new businesses.
It is part of a suite of initiatives launched by RGU designed to embed entrepreneurship and innovation across the university and promote entrepreneurship as a career choice to stimulate economic development.
In its first year, 165 teams applied and 25 were successful, representing fifteen countries and a range of sectors including food and drink, education, technology, digital, healthcare, and the creative industries. Thirty-nine percent of the teams had at least one female founder which is credit to the diversity of the programme. Each of the 25 teams received seed funding of £10,000, specialised mentor-led support, and training and development to help them develop and grow. They also had the opportunity to compete for an additional £75,000 at the programme’s conclusion.
“We’re looking for creative thinkers and problem solvers to share their business ideas with us,” said Gordon McConnell, RGU’s Director for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Last year saw some great success stories, with teams at different stages connecting and collaborating, learning from each other as well as the programme and its mentors.
“We had some startups which began the programme from a more established basis continue their growth in a targeted manner by drilling down into their core value proposition, and we had some who started out simply with an idea or a prototype end the programme as registered businesses which had begun to trade. Some of the teams have even gone on to achieve further success and recognition in similar programmes, such as Untitled Comics and Miss James, businesses with the potential to really shake up their markets, which have both been announced as finalists in Converge 2019.”
Stuart Waddell and Ed Watson, co-founders of LiteSTAT, a business that went through the startup accelerator and aims to improve the teaching of science in high schools, colleges and universities, are also members of staff at RGU. They commented: “We didn’t really know how to break into the market and the accelerator programme has really helped us to get a good customer focus. There’s a room full of people around you with the same problems and you can share and learn from others. It’s been a tremendous thing to experience.”
RGU’s startup accelerator which was launched last year is housed at the ONE Tech Hub, which is based in RGU’s historic Schoolhill building. The ONE TechHub, a £1.5 million investment to accelerate digital tech business growth is a partnership between the university, Opportunity North East and ONE CodeBase.
The competition is open to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students enrolled in any RGU or NESCol programme, as well as full-time or part-time staff and alumni. Applications will close on Sunday 24 November.