A space for students to collaborate and develop their entrepreneurial skills is to be developed by the University of Suffolk (UoS) at the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre (IWIC) to help business recovery post-COVID-19.
UoS has successfully bid for funding for the Entrepreneurs Forge, an immersive development programme designed to create and foster innovation that is strong, enduring, and successful.
Leading and driving the strengthening of Suffolk’s digitally creative SMEs, and the employability of local students and graduates, the project will provide a specific space for students to collaborate and develop entrepreneurial competencies and capacity, while business will have the opportunity to engage with a programme of support encouraging growth.
By working with students and graduates to develop greater entrepreneurial efficacy and digital literacy, UoS will create a group of innovative problem-solvers with the skills and knowledge to tackle real-world issues.
A mini business MBA will form part of the venture, providing an opportunity for business leaders to reflect on their business journey, address and overcome challenges and plan for the future. At the end of the eight sessions they will ‘graduate’ with a project/plan that will form the basis of the student/graduate projects to be delivered from the Forge.
Professor Gurpreet Jagpal, Pro Vice-Chancellor Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Suffolk, commented: “The creation of the Entrepreneurs Forge at the IWIC will build on the University’s track record in supporting ICT, gaming and digitally creative companies through our incubation, knowledge exchange, internships and games hub programmes. It will also provide a programme and immersive space to foster collaboration, creativity and connectivity between the recovery and resilience needs of our digitally creative SMEs and students within our computing and gaming programmes.”
The Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) is a £1.65m fund allocated by Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to support local, place-based economic recovery from COVID-19.
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia LEP, which also helped fund the IWIC, said: “This project will be a fantastic showcase of the innovation which can support SMEs through recovery from the impact of the pandemic. Initiatives which connect university students more closely with businesses can help to drive growth, encourage businesses to innovate and develop new ideas, and give students and graduates excellent local opportunities.”
Cllr Nick Gowrley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Housing & Enterprise for Suffolk County Council and Chair of Suffolk’s Joint Growth Portfolio Holder Group, said: “We are delighted to be investing and supporting the development of the Entrepreneurs Forge, supporting the potential for creative digital innovation and business start-ups in a really important and fast growing sector.”
For more information on the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre, please visit www.uos.ac.uk/iwic