The intention of the program is to support the businesses as they move along the start-up runway (e.g. market testing, prototype development).
This is an ongoing start-up programme at the University of Glasgow.
With the financial support of the Santander Bank, the University provides a 12-week package of financial and on-demand mentoring for students to support the start-up process.
- A £2,500 grant per business (for up to four entrepreneurs or teams per cohort*) to cover start-up expenses (participants are provided with a list of qualifying expenses).
- Free desk space in the University’s hatchery.
- A package of business advice, mentoring, and training workshops that are delivered through a combination of in-house resources and resources drawn from the wider ecosystem.
Other optional, support elements comprise:
- Participation in external events (e.g. a Scottish Institute for Enterprise bootcamp).
- Introductions to networks, including alumni.
- Links to external sources of business support (e.g. Business Gateway).
- Assistance when applying to competitions and funding programmes (e.g. Converge Challenge, Scottish EDGE).
- On-going access the Student Enterprise Manager for advice on an as-needed basis.
- Membership of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce for one year.
- Access to Santander banking support.
Participants make a presentation to the panel at the end of the 12-week programme on the progress that they have made and their future plans.
The programme is open to current students of the University of Glasglow, including final year and PhDs.
Participants can be individuals or teams.
Participants have to commit to their business for a minimum of 35 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks.
The programme has run each year since 2014, starting in June.
See case study evaluating results up to 2019, here: http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/206398/7/206398.pdf.
The program has evolved over time in terms of the package of support and selection criteria in response to participant demand and feedback, such as the criticism that the diversity of participants on the programme in terms of the stage of development of their business and prior business knowledge created a strain on its ‘one size fits all’ design.
The 2019 case study led by Prof. Colin Mason provides the following important insights into the design and operation of university start-up programmes, such as:
- Effective university start-up programmes are much more than about providing financial support.
- There are several issues concerning the selection of participants. There are considerations which have to be balanced, such as:
- (i) How well developed should the potential participants' idea be?
- (ii) How much variability in the prior experience of the participants can be accommodated in the programme?
- (iii) Should the programme favour participants who have recently graduated (or have at least one team member who has graduated) rather than ongoing students?
- Student start-up programmes cannot operate in a vacuum. They have to be embedded in a wider university entrepreneurial ecosystem that addresses each of the stages of startup process.
In terms of expected results and metrics, the case study offers the following lessons:
- On the basis of entrepreneurial outcomes, specifically the number of start-ups that have resulted: The majority of the participants on start-up programmes will either be ‘strike-outs’ or will achieve modest success; only a minority will be ‘home runs’, but they have the potential to generate significant economic benefits.
- However, focusing only on venture creation is too narrow a perspective, and does not the wider impacts on the participants, although the nature of these impacts is subjective and intangible (e.g. personal evaluations of the various program components).
- In this regard, the authors point out that the role of university start-up programmes in the pre-start-up phase of the business and the largely intangible nature of the support provided means that the university’s role is often not acknowledged, forgotten or under-appreciated.
- "[A]ppropriate metrics to measure the success of programmes such as the SSCP should be focused on the individuals participating ... and their subsequent entrepreneurial activities.... Positive outcomes arise even if a participant’s business did not succeed."
See more at http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/206398/7/206398.pdf.
The inspiration for the SSCP was a long-established summer company program operated by the Canadian province of Ontario that is designed to raise entrepreneurial awareness amongst school leavers and university students (ages 15-29). See https://www.ontario.ca/page/summer-company-program-guidelines#section-0. The University of Glasgow’s scheme is similar in its design.
*Because much of the support provided on university start-up programmes is delivered on a one-to-one basis, they are extremely resource intensive and hence typically operate on a small scale.