The Enterprise Day which took place on Wednesday 27 April, brought together the existing enterprise community including students, researchers, entrepreneurs, representatives from larger organisations, and alumni. Personal insights and experiences were shared by those who have turned innovative ideas into business solutions.
Professor Jonathan Knight, Vice-President for Enterprise at the University of Bath, led the inaugural event which took place at The Edge and was opened by Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath. He welcomed over 100 people to an afternoon of individual speakers, panel discussions, and networking sessions, which closed with a drinks reception.
Addressing the audience, Professor White introduced the day to say:
Enterprise, innovation, and entrepreneurship are so important to this University which is so keen that it has impact and has impact for good. Our University community of students, researchers and local entrepreneurs is constantly working to generate new ideas and turning these into products, services and business. The entrepreneurial activity is vital for the local economy, creating employment, developing new skills and retaining graduate talent in the region, spilling out much more widely to have impact globally.
Stephen Kelly, Chair of Tech Nation and Bath alumnus, was a keynote speaker who delivered an inspiring talk about the exciting pace of growth in the UK’s entrepreneurship tech sector and, in the context of net zero, technology for good and technology on the right side of history. His talk emphasised the importance of world-class execution when delivering new solutions, based on market needs to solve business problems. Stephen also highlighted the work that is still to be done regarding breaking down barriers around equality, diversity and inclusion.
Stephen Kelly said:
It is a record-breaking time for the UK in terms of access to capital and venture capital investment, however that is predominantly London and the South East. There is still a regional divide and there’s an even bigger divide for women founders, black founders and people from disadvantaged communities. We really do a lot of work regarding this and have a programme specifically for black founders, to help them and make sure they get the right access to capital with the pitch books, the presentation and how they look at the company to make sure they break through any subconscious bias.
He concluded his talk to say:
When I was asked to speak at the Enterprise Day I thought this is exactly what the University of Bath should be leading the South West on and I welcome the initiative absolutely. Collaboration and inclusion is a platform to bring students together with entrepreneurs, with venture capitalists, with investors, with the best of academia, with government agencies, and with local government. That creates a real melting pot of innovation where we can take these ideas, get all the actors together, and allow the entrepreneurs to really build global market leaders.
Joe Marshall, CEO of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) chaired a panel conversation on the challenges and opportunities presented for business in creating a green and resilient future. Panel guests included Emma McKenna, Head of Net Zero at the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).
Simon Bond, Innovation Director of the global #1 university business incubator SETsquared, also chaired a panel discussion on the key ingredients required to create the ecosystem necessary to support innovative new businesses.
Academic speakers included Professor Dimo Dimov whose research created the Social Enterprise and Innovation Programme, generating £3.3 million investment in the South West; Professor Davide Mattia, Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Engineering and Design who co-founded the spin-out Naturbeads; and Professor Marianne Ellis, Head of Chemical Engineering who co-founded Cellular Agriculture.
Among the delegates was David Kelly, Bath alumnus and co-founder of Storm Consultancy who was recently awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Student entrepreneurs also took the opportunity to share their entrepreneurial journeys via presentations and taking part in the pop-up showcase of start-ups which ran throughout the afternoon. The Vice-Chancellor and President presented awards to students in celebration of their entrepreneurial successes.
The University intends to run the Enterprise Day as an annual event to support our innovation ecosystem going forwards.