New programme launches for next generation of entrepreneurs

60 entrepreneurs began their journey to potentially earning part of a £10,000 prize fund and a chance to turn their business idea into a reality at the launch of STEAMhouse’s new programme.

Posted 08 June 2022

Building core skills in business

STEAM Hatchery launched at STEAMhouse on Tuesday 7 June, bringing together 60 third-year students, Master’s students, postgraduate researchers and recent graduates of Birmingham City University.

The programme, which will take place over ten weeks, offers participants the chance to develop their business plan and turn their idea into a real-life venture, with the help of part of a £10,000 prize fund, mentorship support, access to facilities and a place in BCU’s startup support hub, STEAMhouse Incubator.

In order to clinch the money, participants will need to submit a business plan and present their idea to a panel of judges, made up of local business representatives.

However, along the way, the budding entrepreneurs will learn key skills and gain valuable insight into the core fundamentals of business, including prototyping, financial planning, sales strategies, sustainable business models and more.

Expert knowledge and key confidence building

The launch event saw participants meet their STEAM Hatchery mentors, a group of experts from marketing, finance, intellectual property and more, that will offer support and guidance throughout the ten weeks.

Participants were given an insightful introduction into generating new and innovative business ideas, having a long-term plan, how to be adaptive to changing markets and the importance of working together.

It also provided the participants with the chance to network, learn and engage in a collaborative, creative space.

Sane, a BCU Master's graduate and current STEAM participant. “I have just set up my own business and needed expert knowledge, but I didn’t have the funds for such services,” says Sanelisiwe Mafa (pictured), a recent Master’s graduate from BCU who has signed up to the Hatchery.

“To receive this kind of support, as well as great access to facilities and more, from the STEAM Hatchery is incredibly helpful.”

Sanelisiwe is incredibly thankful that the University is providing such opportunities to its recent graduates, especially those who are unsure of what career path to take.

“When you finish university, sometimes you wonder where you go from there,” she explains.

“This programme gives you extra guidance, the kind you don’t get when you’re studying a specific subject, as well as the skills and confidence to navigate setting up a business.”

The programme enabled the participants to begin discussing potential collaborations, something Sanelisiwe welcomes.

“It is collaborative, so areas of our business where we are not so confident in – or where we could do with outside knowledge – can be aided by meeting people on this programme.”

Exciting, vibrant and vital way of learning

The Hatchery launch proved to be a mutually beneficial day, with STEAM Hatchery mentors reflecting on their own business journey and enthused at the prospect of helping a new generation of entrepreneurs.

“Having a programme like the Hatchery would have made a massive difference to my career at the beginning,” says David Mellor, an experienced business consultant and Hatchery mentor.

“I went into traditional graduate training and it took around six years before I was ready to take the business plunge. Here we have something that’s fun, upbeat, vibrant and really important.

"This is a brilliant opportunity for young people to trial ideas and to innovate.

“I’m hoping to give a bit of real-world experience, support and some perspective, having seen and worked with many businesses.”

Richard Scutt, as Head of Growth and Incubation at STEAMhouse, is overseeing the Hatchery and is thrilled with the response of the first session, as well as being excited about the future.

“Today, we have, potentially, 60 businesses sitting right here that could all contribute to the economic and cultural growth of Birmingham, which feels truly fantastic,” he says.

The Hatchery opportunity is massive. It’s very rare that a programme offers prize funding, let alone the additional support of mentoring and excellent facilities, as well as the ability to talk to a solicitor, an accountant and a bank about important business decisions.”