August 2019

New FORWARD Accelerator programme to provide 'next level' business support for UCB entrepreneurs

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Budding entrepreneurs at University College Birmingham have been boosted by the launch of a new accelerator programme designed to help students and graduates take their own businesses to the next level.

The FORWARD Accelerator programme, created by Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC), offers a range of resources and opportunities for Midlands students and graduates who are seeking to scale up their start-up businesses.

Starting on 9 September, the six month programme covers key elements including wellbeing, storytelling, finances, growth strategies and planning for the future, concluding with a demonstration day where there will be the opportunity to pitch to investors.

The scheme, which has been developed in partnership with the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE), offers a range of benefits. These include mentoring and coaching, virtual resources, workshops and training, as well as a co-working space at Alpha Works, based at Birmingham's landmark Alpha Tower near UCB's Summer Row.

It is the latest addition to the packages of support available for student entrepreneurs at UCB, following on from the BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) programme, which provides start-up funding and support for Birmingham students.

UCB Guild of Students president Ross Loveitt, who works with BEC alongside UCB's Enterprise Hive, said FORWARD Accelerator will serve to bridge the gap between student start-up schemes like BSEEN and professional accelerator programmes for more established businesses.

"This is aimed at students who are beginning to scale up their businesses," said Ross. "For a student who is just stepping up, there's not much support for them really, so this is what FORWARD Accelerator is doing.

"You get mentoring, networking, shared resources and the co-working space so you're not only mixing with other students and small businesses but also people in the city. It creates that community of support."

The new programme comes following research released by mobile payments company SumUp earlier in the spring which ranked Birmingham as the best place in the UK for small businesses, and one of the top ten cities in Europe.

BEC Chair Daniel Evans said: “FORWARD has been designed specifically to fill the major gap we see in the region’s start-up ecosystem when it comes to student/graduate entrepreneurship. The university-led programmes, such as BSEEN, do a great job of creating start-ups. FORWARD’s role is to help them thrive and grow.”

NACUE CEO Holly Knower said: "I am delighted to see the launch of FORWARD, an exceptional grass roots initiative to further enhance the development of entrepreneurs in the Midlands region. FORWARD will provide an innovative platform to foster innovation, collaboration and increased opportunities for early-stage ventures that wish to take their business to the next level.”

FORWARD Accelerator is open for applications until 9 August. For more information and to apply, visit the BEC website here.

To find out more about the range of support available for student entrepreneurs at UCB, contact the University's Enterprise Hive.

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