Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) new initiative, the first funded programme of its kind in the north-east of Scotland, will support 28 entrepreneurial teams of students, staff and recent alumni from RGU and North East Scotland College (NESCol). Organisers hope the programme will help the region’s entrepreneurs and innovators create new businesses.
The business teams will receive training and expert advice. Funding of up to £10,000 is also available for each start-up.
The accelerator is part of the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship programmes, with teams involved covering a range of industries including healthcare, financial technology, digital media, energy, education technology, food, retail, fashion and textiles.
More than 160 teams entered the application process. Around 100 of those teams reached the main competition phase of the programme and were assessed by a panel of 40 judges, including 30 international industry experts.
“The new Start-up Accelerator is just one of the many ways in which RGU is offering students a way to develop their careers while still in university,” said John Harper, principal and vice chancellor of RGU.
“By opening access for staff and alumni from both RGU and NESCol, the university is building an open and inclusive innovation ecosystem that will have long-lasting impact on the wider regional economy.”
The accelerator, which is funded by the Wood Foundation, is based in the Innovation Station, a new on-campus innovation and entrepreneurship space in the university’s Sir Ian Wood Building.
It will also be run from the recently unveiled ONE Digital Entrepreneurship Hub, which is located at the RGU Schoolhill site.
“The teams have been chosen through a rigorous judging process,” said Gordon McConnell, vice-principal of commercial and regional innovation.
“Now the real hard work begins as the teams go into an intensive mentor-led accelerator process designed to help them develop their value proposition and lead to the establishment of operational companies.”
The start-up teams will also be supported by the AberdeenInnovation Mentors (AIM), a new volunteer group which is designed to support company creation and expansion in several industries to drive economic development.
It has already attracted more than a dozen members and membership is expected to exceed 50 in 2019.
The Start-up Accelerator competition runs each year and is open to undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral students enrolled in any RGU or NESCol programme, as well as full-time or part-time staff and recent alumni. While at least one member of the team must be from one of these groups, teams also include external individuals.
The accelerator – along with the university’s Innovation Skills programmes – are the first of a series of new initiatives in the areas of skills, employability, innovation and entrepreneurship being developed by RGU staff, all of which are scheduled to launch over the coming months.