The U Start project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aims to assist people with some affiliation to Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire to develop their business ideas at pre-start stage, to register new ventures, and to develop them over their earliest stages of trading. Those who are able to benefit from the project include students enrolled with one of the Universities, staff at one of the Universities (including academic and non-academic staff), alumni based within the region who have recently graduated, and new business owners engaging in Knowledge Exchange activities with one of the Universities.
Support is provided through two pathways:
- Enterprise Readiness: Aspiring entrepreneurs and founders receive non-financial support to become ‘enterprise ready’. Interventions focus on ideas testing and validation, market research, business and financial planning, business formation, etc, with the aim of giving beneficiaries full confidence to register a business as a result. The activities are predominantly workshop based, or via blended learning programmes.
- 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, advanced financial planning and seeking finance, marketing, etc, with the aim of supporting the resilience of the business owner and the sustainability of the business. The activities are predominantly mentoring based, via 1-2-1 support from experienced entrepreneurs, according to the specific needs 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.
To find out whether you are eligible and can be supported via the U Start project, or via other schemes in Lancashire, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.