February 2024

Event empowering startups commences at Business School

By Carrie Mok

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The inaugural Skills4Startups Festival Roadshow presented by IgniteQuals took place earlier this month at University College Birmingham’s Business School.

With an emphasis on fostering entrepreneurship and professional development for business leaders both within the region and beyond, the Business School was the perfect venue for the Roadshow’s theme of empowering the startup community through education.

The day saw a spectrum of talks, panels, workshops, networking opportunities and business idea pitches. Hosted by Andy Wilkinson, Chairperson of Institute of Directors (IoD) Birmingham Branch, the event featured talks from founders and entrepreneurs discussing their journeys in developing multi-million pound businesses, lessons along the way as well as top tips for startups. Their expert insights were delivered to an audience of entrepreneurs across a wide range of industries.


Andy Wilkinson, Chairperson of Institute of Directors (IoD)



Taheera Lovell - CEO of The TLC Group of Companies

Paul Wood - Founder of STAMP, PTECT and WOODSHIRES

Erica Farmer - Co-Founder of Quantum Rise Talent Group Ltd and TedX speaker

Susanna Lawson DipIoD - Founder of OneFile and Circle of Trust

Adam Barnes - MD of Roemer Barnes Consultancy

Trudi Beswick - Chief Innovation Officer of Myn

Davies Okeowo - Business Finance Specialist, Oxford Innovation Advice 

The speakers then joined a panel chaired by Erica, with questions asked by the audience. Specialist workshops followed in the afternoon ranging from the art of developing good business plans to the use of AI for startups. Attendees also had the chance to pitch their business ideas to the experts over the course of the afternoon, getting invaluable feedback and gaining new skills that will aid their business.

Sophie Azam, Founder and Chief Executive of IgniteQuals Group, said of the event: “What a fantastic roadshow launching the Skills 4 startups initiative with the highly prestigious University College Birmingham's Business School. We were pleased to see both startup companies and young entrepreneurs in attendance gaining expert insights and enthusiastically interacting with the speakers and workshop presenters throughout the day. There was no better venue to reflect our shared focus on the delivery of high-quality industry-led training that advances the careers of learners and boosts the skills of current and future entrepreneurs than University College Birmingham’s Business School. We look forward to the next Skills 4 Startups Roadshow in May.”


In pictures: Skills4Startups Festival Roadshow


  • The Lazy Over-Achiever Approach: “Effortlessly Excellent” - delivered by B.D. Dalton II
  • Developing Good Business Plans and Financial Models at Early Inception - delivered by Mike Moulder.
  • Data-Driven Resilience: The Future-Proof Startup - exploring how startups can harness the power of data to not only protect themselves but also build a resilient foundation, delivered by Taheera Lovell
  • Artificial Intelligence for the Average Joe - breaking down AI language and understanding for Startups, delivered by Erica Farmer (TedX Speaker)
  • Apprenticeships 101: The Benefits, Support, and Eligibility for Startups and SMEs - delivered by Helen Cuthbert from the AELP
  • Inclusion Meets Human-Centred Design in Business - delivered by Sofia Azam. Founder and Chief Executive of IgniteQuals Group
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