£5.2 million project for entrepreneurs of tomorrow

The Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education West Midlands (SPEED WM) programme gives students the opportunity to set up their own business while they are still at university.

Students from all subjects are encouraged to pitch their business ideas to a Dragon’s Den style panel, with 30 selected to go forward. This year’s cohort are launching a wide range of businesses, including ones focused on photography, glass design, welding and even a secret invention.

Participants get financial support worth up to £4,500, with the ability to spend £1,500 on necessities for their business which are approved by the programme managers, and £1,500 to spend on professional services bought on their behalf by SPEED WM, for example help setting up a website or intellectual property advice. The other £1,500 covers help and support in the form of 10 hours coaching from a qualified business mentor, plus business training and use of incubation space at Wolverhampton Science Park

In addition students can do “Business Bursts” which are sessions on more specific areas such as online marketing, networking and how to hold an exhibition.

Funded by Advantage West Midlands, the European Regional Development Fund and Higher Education Innovation Fund 4, the scheme is open to all full or part time UK, EU or European Economic area students on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at the University.

Professor Ian Oakes, Pro Vice-Chancellor Regional Investment and Development, said: "The programme will be a real bonus to those students who have the entrepreneurial flair and drive to develop their own business ideas and reflects the enterprising nature of the educational experience gained by students at the University of Wolverhampton."

Programme manager Sarah Taylor said: “We are delighted to be leading SPEED WM, which gives students an excellent opportunity to gain the support and help they need to launch a new business. They are able to gain practical business skills with the help of a specialised mentor and use the expertise we have in the University to turn their business ideas into reality.”

SPEED WM is a three-year project worth £5.2 million, run by the University’s Institute for Innovation & Enterprise (IIE). The University of Wolverhampton also manages the project regionally for the partner institutions, which are the universities of Birmingham, Birmingham City, Coventry, Keele, Staffordshire, Worcester and Aston.

The selection process for the next cohort of SPEED will begin in September 2009. For more information, visit www.wlv.ac.uk/speed

Further information

For media inquiries, contact Vickie Woodward in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736 or 07973 335112.

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