How one Global University is nurturing the next best thing in international start-ups.
As part of my three-day whistle stop visit to London this week organised by the Normandy and the French-British Chambers of Commerce, I had the privilege to gain access to the workings of UCL Advances, an in-house student entrepreneurship support organism attached to University College London.
I was amazed to discover how structurally organised the support was to unite interdisciplinary schools to help students get as much advice and help to lift their entrepreneurial projects off the ground and get the maximum exposure on an citywide, national and even international level.
UCL Advances works around four poles of activity for its students that each reply to a specific need set out by each entrepreneur:
It firstly organises business mentoring, joining industry mentors with existing business directors to offer advice and help, build an on-going network of professionals and pragmatically share ideas and advice needed for the here and now. Business owners can hear case scenarios from their mentors to learn about the things to do and avoid for particular problems.
Secondly UCL Advances has teamed up with the London Business School to get behind students volunteering to tackle head on a real life business project that can be completed under a strict deadline and fully implemented. The experience for students is enormous and the buzz of pouring in creativity with some business clout is priceless.
The third pole of activity is of course an elaborate European and international student paid Internship placement scheme, whereby students are actually financed by UCL and not their host placement company to gain experience for up to 8 weeks.
And of course the University partakes in the ERASMUS for Young Entrepreneurs, which is part sponsored by the EU. Students can be placed for up to 6 months in young start-up companies across Europe. Not only is the student immediately exposed to the fast moving working environment, but s/he can enjoy the benefits of observing how things are done away from their country setting.
International entrepreneurial success stories
I was particularly impressed by the approach UCL takes to guide their budding entrepreneurs to get a taste of trying to commercialise a project from A to Z in the “real world”. This is bearing in mind that the University does not have any business school of its own.
In case you are wondering, since its inception six years ago UCL Advances has been largely responsible for the success of various start-ups, including Mobile application start-up for the Fashion industry Poq Studio. You can get a glimpse of their quite popular e-commerce application created by the company in the video clip below:
With such a vibrant and international city that London is, it’s no real surprise that one of the city’s most long standing and reputable universities boasts such a structured entrepreneurial support body, but I get the feeling that the University has as much drive and energy as the entrepreneurs it accompanies.
The objective of the UCL Advances is to be the global leader in enterprise and open innovation and judging from their past commercial international start-up successes they seem well in line to achieve this goal. For more information on some of the projects nurtured by UCL Advances, check out the specially designated website here to showcase ongoing ventures thanks to Capital List.