Winners of new business development programme revealed

Four budding entrepreneurs picked up valuable funding and access to key support after being crowned winners of the STEAM Hatchery, STEAMhouse’s programme for students and recent graduates to turn their business ideas into real-life ventures.

Posted 18 August 2022

Simon Caulton, Jo Birch, Tanmay Kumar Das, Rishika Bhalla, Anne Edwards, Sophina Miah and Joe Margetts at the STEAM Hatchery awards presentation.

A massive opportunity for budding business owners

The STEAM Hatchery, which launched in June, saw 60 participants – comprised of final-year, Master’s and PhD students, as well as recent graduates – develop their business ideas with the help of twice-weekly sessions.

The programme offered the budding entrepreneurs the chance to build a business plan and learn the core skills needed to be a successful business owner.

The 60 participants competed for a chance to win a number of prizes, with first place winning £4,000 and the three runners-up receiving £2,000 each. The winners will also receive a place in STEAMhouse’s Business Incubator, a hub for startups.

All participants also have the opportunity to access free desk space, meeting rooms and more at the new STEAMhouse Pre-Incubator, located on the Ground Floor of Millennium Point, an entrepreneurship and enterprise space for students and graduates. 

Across the ten weeks, participants were able to access support from STEAM Hatchery mentors, a group of experts from vital areas of business such as marketing, finance, intellectual property and more.

They also worked collaboratively and individually to build their skills and knowledge before submitting their business plan and presenting their idea to a panel of judges.

The Hatchery opportunity is massive,” enthuses Richard Scutt, Head of Growth and Incubation at STEAMhouse and the STEAM Hatchery lead.

“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.”

A special celebration for a special programme

The first ever Hatchery culminated in a special awards presentation, bringing together participants, mentors and staff.

“Over the past ten weeks, we have created a relaxed and friendly environment where participants have created a road map for setting up a business,” explains Joe Margetts, Enterprise Manager at Birmingham City University (BCU).

“We’ve had support from BCU academics and some excellent mentors, who have provided guidance and helped the participants focus on themselves as individuals.

“It’s great to see so many of them together in the room, ensuring the relationships we’ve established during the programme continue.”

The event saw Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at BCU Professor Peter Francis talk to attendees and reveal the winners.

A transformative experience

First prize went to Tanmay Kumar Das, a PhD student based in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences.

The four winners of the STEAM Hatchery. There were also three runners-up:

  • Rishika Bhalla, a Master’s graduate and Founder of Sole Circle UK, a not-for-profit organisation that helps clean up old sneakers and allocate them to those living in poverty.
  • Anne Edwards, a Master’s graduate whose company, Co-Creative Jewellers, allows customers to create their own pieces of jewellery.
  • Sophina Masih, a Master’s student and Founder of Constructive Mess, a textile-based company that designs bespoke, sustainable products.

Each runner-up received £2,000 to further develop their businesses and were grateful for the knowledge gained.

“I’m a designer but I wasn’t necessarily a businesswoman,” Sophina explains.

“When I first started on the programme, I had no idea about the business side of things. I didn’t know about net profit, margins, cost sheets, how to get investors on board… this programme taught me the ins and outs of business. Having a programme like this is a gift.”

Rishika also spoke positively about the Hatchery’s influence and support.

“It had really useful sessions, week in and week out, where I got to look at my business idea from a clear lens and understand what I want it to be,” she explains.

“It really pushed me to think about areas of my business I wouldn’t normally consider and helped me to grow my vision for the business.

“I have gained so many skills and become a more well-rounded person. You’re working with people regularly and that energy rubs off on you.

“I’d 100 per cent recommend the Hatchery to others – it gives you the confidence to believe in yourself and bring your passion to life.”

The STEAM Hatchery is set to return in 2023. For more information, visit the STEAM Hatchery webpage or contact