Start Up Lab
The entrepreneurship program, Startup Sussex, has rebranded to become the ‘Start Up Lab’. The competition is still for entrepreneurial students and recent graduates from the University of Sussex, but there is a new way of how the program operates.
It’s evident that last year has been nothing like we’ve faced before in our lives. We have all had to adapt to the situation as best, and as quick as we can. Consequently, the competition has had to adjust to following the government COVID-19 guidelines. The turnout has been amazing with between 40-50 participants joining the weekly workshops and a similar number re-watching the workshops at their convenience.
From attending workshops and the pitch event I saw many great ideas that inspired me. The drive I witnessed from students showed me that even during uncertain times like the one we find ourselves in, students are still so perseverant and ambitious. Entrepreneurship within the student population is amazing in general. On average, 12 business are born every single day at British universities. So, for me, helping support Simon and the entrepreneurship team at Sussex has been an insightful opportunity. Attending the pitch event was great because I not only felt energized by my peers at Sussex but also proud. By this I mean, during a global pandemic, students are still driven and determined to make the most of their time at university.
At the pitching event on Tuesday 8th December, our two judges were Helena Jevons, Head of Sales and Marketing at Sussex Innovation, and George Farrugia, Enterprise Officer at the University of Sussex. The judges decided on the following founders and enterprises to move forward into phase 2:
For the start-up Sussex element, there were so many great ideas that I witnessed being pitched and for many of the ideas, I was taken by their brilliance and unique selling points. The types of businesses that made it through consist of festival experiences, PC fans, reliable and trusted online marketplaces, fashion gift and subscription box services, student-led promotion companies and creative studio experiential designs. I appreciate the variety of talented ideas and individuals who were selected for phase 2 because the ideas are all so different and have their own importance to each group or individual.
SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE
Those who made it through to phase 2 of the competition for the social impact prize include social entrepreneurs who are looking to address big challenges like grief support and counselling, sustainable education systems, mental health services in care homes and ethical farming practices. The ideas all have their own unique touch which is something I appreciated about this element of the competition. Giving back to society and doing ‘business for good’ will always be something I am ecstatic to see as someone who runs a community interest group themself.
The Next Stage
Phase two of the program will see the teams begin an eight-week course of mentoring at the Sussex Innovation Centre. This allows the selected participants to form formal business plans of applying for the startup Sussex or social impact prize in March. It’s important to note that, in a change from previous years, applicants do not need to be participating in phase 2 to apply for either the Startup Sussex or Social Impact Prize this year. For everyone still working on their business plan, it’s key to note that applications are due by Friday 5th March 2021 and the pitch day is Wednesday 24th March. Click here for more information.
From being involved in the program and running the social media side I’ve learnt a great deal about the student entrepreneurship community which helps me understand how big of a community it is. The variety of businesses started every single day and week by a diverse set of students is empowering for the student population. Also, learning useful skills in social media, marketing and content creation is not only fun but helpful. I like the idea of being multi-skilled and helping support the startup Sussex program has assisted me in this sense.
I am curious to see who will be crowned with the title of Sussex student entrepreneur of the year for the 20/21 academic year. There are so many fantastic ideas from both the social impact prize and start up Sussex prize competitions. I am looking forward to seeing who receives which prizes and where they take their ideas in the near and far future. I’m wishing everyone applying the best of luck!