The U Start project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aims to assist graduates from Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire to start up their own businesses. People who benefit from the project are students enrolled with one of the Universities, staff at one of the Universities (including academic and non-academic staff), and alumni based within the region who have recently graduated.
Support is provided through two pathways:
- Enterprise Readiness: Potential entrepreneurs receive non-financial support to become ‘enterprise ready’. Content focuses on ideas testing, market research, business planning, business formation, etc, with the aim of giving beneficiaries full confidence to register a business as a result.
- New Business: New business owners receive non-financial support to de-risk their businesses and prepare them to engage in growth support. Content focuses on strategic planning, business leadership, seeking finance, marketing, etc, with the aim of supporting the resilience of the business owner and the sustainability of the business.
Content is delivered through a range of media to enable scalability and accessibility – traditional one-to-many, flipped classroom with facilitated self-access, coaching and mentoring, networking, business simulation experiences, etc.
The project has been designed for maximum effectiveness based on the partners’ experience, on ongoing professional updating through strong network relationships with enterprise educators globally, and a growing demand for support, stimulated by the presence of entrepreneurship in popular culture as a viable career option with low barriers to entry.
As the link between enterprise activities and graduate employability has been clearly established, beneficiaries receiving support but not going on to start businesses also experience significant personal benefits and strengthen the talent base within the region for employers.