Bangor University and Menai Science Park partner to inspire young entrepreneurs

A 10-week Bangor University initiative has offered ‘amazing experiences’ to students and young entrepreneurs according to young business owners who got involved as mentors in the event.

Students at Bangor University were offered a fantastic opportunity to gain new skills essential to employers through the Enterprise by Design program, and this year the team captains were sponsored by Bangor University’s Menai Science Park (M-SParc).

Bringing students together from seven schools and subject areas within the University to work together in teams over a 10-week period, Enterprise by Design saw students receive an innovative and educational design challenge, and work to create, develop and pitch a new solution.

This year’s challenge was to develop proposals for a new, local food enterprise that helps maintain a healthy planet, while optimising the consumption of nutritious food to create a healthy community. The challenge involved marketing the use of microgreens, to be developed in a community garden with people recovering from addiction.

All of the competing teams benefitted significantly from the experience, with the top three teams receiving funding and guidance, ensuring they continue with their entrepreneurial spirit and are able to apply this thinking to any product or venture in the future., which will help fast-track any potential for these student-led innovations to develop into exciting start-ups in the very near future.

M-SParc worked with the University to sponsor team captains, with this year’s quartet all linked to M-SParc either through tenant companies, or as previous M-SParc interns.

The captains already work in industry and were able to share their commercial knowledge with the student teams, and in return were able to develop their communication and team-leading skills. Academic staff from the University also led the project, to support the students in learning business theory, engineering, media strategy, and the psychology of decisions.

Luke Tyler, who works for the Tech Tyfu project led by Menter Mon, was one of the captains and he said:

“The 2021 Enterprise by Design Programme looked at innovative methods of growing local food, and focused on the rapidly growing market for microgreens. There were some really interesting ideas pitched at the final event.

“The winning pitch proposed a living tray product delivered to customers, which was pitched extremely professionally, with a quirky and memorable video and if they can iron out a few issues I think they will have the makings of a successful start-up!“

Josef Roberts of Pai Language Learning added:

“My experience with EBD has been both highly enjoyable and really valuable. It's been really great seeing the students, who came from diverse backgrounds, come together to come up with innovative and sustainable business ideas that hopefully will benefit North Wales in a holistic way.

“Everyone who took part got something out of it. Personally, I have a better grasp on how I can use my personal skills to ensure the success of a business project, and the students got some real experience of working in a business environment, developing their ability to communicate outside of their discipline.”

Tom Turner, a tenant of the Santander Universities room at M-SParc said:

“The EBD project has been an amazing experience for me to learn more in depth about Microgreens as well as the current work going on in the region. It has also been a great event to support students and teach them value skills they can apply to their future work.

“Watching the students develop their understanding and ideas has also been a rewarding journey and I thought everyone that presented showed unique ways to innovate around the same brief, which I found very inspiring.“

Jack Sheridan, a former intern at M-SParc and the fourth team captain added:

“EBD is a great opportunity for allowing cross-discipline work. It really gives you a view of people's unique perspective, which helps with innovation and is a driving force behind it.

“This year's growing for change project has shown how impressive students can be at communicating their respective disciplines to each other and concisely presenting their joint expertise in a fast-paced style.”

M-SParc were invited to the judging panel to watch the pitches and help decide on a winner. Emily Roberts, Operations Manager, said:

“The teams all gave very professional pitches, and it was clear that in a short space of time they had managed to form strong working relationships; that in itself is a key skill for the workplace.

“Congratulations to everyone who took part, and I hope the experience has helped shape how they look at businesses and venture going into the future. This is what we at M-SParc want to see; people going for it, giving things a try and being innovative – that’s to be celebrated.”

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