Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) has announced its continued support of Manchester Enterprise Centre’s annual business start-up competition, Venture Further.
Anne Dornan, head of innovation and partnerships at MSP explains why the organisation is passionate about supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, and how initiatives such as Venture Further are key in promoting a wider cultural shift within universities and the city itself.
MSP was established over 30 years ago as a partnership between Manchester’s universities, local authorities and the private sector to develop the city’s knowledge economy, supporting the commercialisation of new research and technologies emerging from the universities, driving the growth of science and technology companies and attracting R&D investment from across the globe.
Manchester has long positioned itself as one of Europe’s key university cities, with world-leading higher education institutions attracting more than 150,000 students with diverse backgrounds and nationalities. This translates into a vast pool of talent and skills, but above all, ideas and inspiration. An enterprising culture within universities helps these ideas transform from sparks of imagination to reality, adding immense value to the regional economy and making Manchester an even more vibrant city.
Alongside supporting initiatives such as Venture Further, MSP is actively engaged at a grassroots level with student-led organisations like Manchester Entrepreneurs, one of the largest and most successful student enterprise societies in the UK, with over 4,500 members. Our Greenheys incubator is home to their AccelerateME programme, an intensive 12 week accelerator designed around academic schedules, to help nurture some of the most promising start-ups on campus into successful businesses.
Similarly, our Citylabs 1.0 space hosts a range of events organised by ReThinkX, a new student venture connecting students, academics, entrepreneurs and industry experts within healthcare, allowing them to leverage new technologies and trends into simple solutions that solve complex problems. Their recent conference in partnership with MSP showcased the potential for innovative technologies to transform healthcare, and attracted thought leaders, innovators and industry experts from 5 different countries, with 350 people in attendance. We are also working closely with Campus Capital - a great new addition to the ecosystem - delivering on-campus venture capital funds (£2m) part-run by students, providing investment training and invaluable experience to aspiring investors and entrepreneurs - everything from contract negotiations to deal structuring and the process behind company valuations.
Activities and initiatives like these are vital in establishing Corridor Manchester as one of Europe’s leading innovation districts, home to a substantial student population, national R&D centres, famous cultural venues and some of the continent’s most exciting and innovative companies working in the life sciences, advanced materials and digital technology sectors. MSP’s campuses offer the opportunity to work in close proximity to, and collaborate with, a vast talent pool of scientists, researchers, clinicians, innovators and investors, an environment that very few other locations can match. Out of this hotbed of talent and enterprise come the fresh ideas and novel approaches that enable innovation to flourish and new businesses to be born.
Venture Further plays such an important role in the formative stages of an enterprise, offering the perfect platform for students to showcase their ideas to businesses already operating in these sectors, and MSP is a hugely proud supporter. The prize of a cash boost to the winning business is helpful motivation, but of arguably greater value are the connections and networks which all who take part can access. The advice and mentorship that established companies can offer to those looking to commercialise early-stage concepts is priceless. Over the past years, I have been highly impressed by the ideas, enthusiasm and zeal of the finalists, and hope to be able to work with many of them in the future.
The winner of the 2014 Venture Further Technology category, Biorelate, now operates from Manchester Science Park. The company provides rapidly-curated databases to businesses working in drug discovery and validation, and has gone from strength to strength since winning the award and joining the MSP community, including securing investment from the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Sciences Fund. With the right environment and support, the student entrepreneurs of today can become the successful business leaders of tomorrow, and it is a real privilege to play a part in that journey.To find out more information about MSP and the opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, visit the Manchester Science Partnerships website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org