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Bath to business

Enterprising students and alumni are turning big ideas into businesses with a positive impact on people and the planet. Here, they share their start-up stories.

Bath is fast becoming a hub for start-ups, as more and more students are using their drive and ambition to build their own businesses. These budding entrepreneurs are driven by the potential to make a difference – and we’re helping them to turn their innovative ideas into a reality.

Through the University’s membership of SETsquared – the world’s number one university-based business incubator – students can access investment opportunities, as well as develop their practical skills and connections through workshops and networking events.

Since 2002, SETsquared has supported over 5,000 entrepreneurs and helped them raise over £2 billion investment.

On campus, the School of Management will have a dedicated hub for entrepreneurship. The new building, 10 East, opened in June 2022 and will include a Student Entrepreneurship Lab. This year also marked our inaugural Enterprise Day, which brought together industry leaders, academics, students and alumni to talk about how business can create a green and resilient future. It was an opportunity to showcase student start-ups, including the Washing Machine Project, founded by Nav Sawhney (MSc Humanitarianism, Conflict & Development 2020), who created a hand-cranked device to ease the burden of handwashing clothes for people in refugee camps.

Here, you’ll meet just some of our Bath community who, like Nav, hope to build a better future through business.

“I had a lightbulb moment – this could be used for women’s safety”

E-J Roodt (BSc Business 2022)

Business: Epowar

The big idea: A smartwatch safety app that can sense the wearer’s distress and trigger an alert.

Supported by: Innovation Award; Dragons’ Den alumni grants; Enterprise Bath, SETsquared

Read E-J's story
E-J Roodt headshot

"The support made such a difference"

James Russ (MEng Integrated Design Engineering 2021)

Business: Testmyteeth

The big idea: An app that helps people to identify, track and manage their own dental health at home.

Supported by: Innovation Award; Dragons’ Den; NatWest Business Builder; SETsquared; Acceler8 by Bath Entrepreneurs

Read James' story
James Russ smiling in front of a banner

“I see the opportunity to create a solution”

Helen Liang (PhD in Sustainable & Circular Technologies 2022)

Business: LabCycle

The big idea: A company that specialises in recycling single-use plastic from laboratories.

Supported by: Innovation Award; Dragons’ Den; SETsquared; Santander Entrepreneurship Fund

Read Helen's story
Helen Liang giving a presentation

Inspiring enterprise

Dave Kelly speaks to us at our inaugural Enterprise Day on campus.

Taking Bath by Storm

Dave Kelly (BSc Business Administration 2009) co-founded Bath-based digital tech agency Storm Consultancy with fellow graduate Adam Pope (BSc Computer Science 2009) during their final year of university.

Dave Kelly stood smiling in front of a set of shelves

In 2013, Storm entered into a joint venture with the University of Bath and created CiteAb – now the world’s leading life science data company, which is estimated to save the industry over $1bn a year. Both companies received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for innovation in 2022.

Why did you choose to study at Bath?

One of the things that attracted me to studying a business course was the breadth of opportunities – you learn about finance, economics, HR, marketing – the whole lot. What really impressed me about the Business Administration course at Bath was the level of integration with industry.

How did your studies help you to develop?

I’m from a place in Cornwall where buses came every other Tuesday if you were lucky, so university was a big change. It gave me a confidence boost and I grew up quite quickly. I also benefited from the connections I made through the course – not just with peers but also within the business community. Even now that I’m an alumnus, the University still invites me to events such as guest lectures, and I love that I’m asked to chip in and speak to students, too. As a graduate, you know how valuable a network can be because you’ve experienced it first-hand, so it’s a no-brainer to give back to Bath in some way.

Why did you decide to ‘branch’ out from tech and plant your own forest?

This stemmed from Storm’s 10th anniversary. We made three pledges: to become a B Corp; to create a forest to offset our carbon legacy; and to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise – and now we’ve achieved all three! Co-forest was inspired by my eldest daughter, who was asking what we can do to help combat climate change. With a healthy dose of naïve optimism, we decided to set an example and plant our own forest. Immediately, our clients wanted to get involved and within a month we had raised £250,000 and were on our way to buying land in Bristol and planting 10,000 trees. Hundreds of volunteers made it possible, which shows what can be achieved by coming together. Co-forest will be a lasting reminder of that. The School of Management encourages students to think ambitious.

What does ambition mean to you?

For me, ambition is essentially your end point, your dream – but it’s meaningless unless you have the drive and desire to make it happen.

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This article was written by Jodie Tyley for BA2 Issue 30, published in September 2022.