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Innovative students win start-up grants after completing BETA START-UP business support programme

Ten student businesses have been awarded start-up grants of up to £1,500 after impressing judges as part of the University’s BETA skills development and start-up support programme.

Nine start-ups from Plymouth Business School and one from the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics received the grants from their faculties, after successful pitches to the BETA panel.

The BETA Enterprise Programme, run by the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre in Plymouth Business School, encourages budding business innovators to develop their ideas with advice from local experts. Running from October to May, the extracurricular programme is open to current students at the University, with the aim of making them more confident, innovative and employable graduates. Participants benefit from free skills development workshops, guest lectures from alumni and networking events, and taking part also contributes to students’ Plymouth Award/HEAR reports.

Judit Mero Hossain and Julia Jaczo pitching First Class Mentoring


The successful students, with businesses focusing on everything from urban bee farming to adventure and sustainable travel, were some of the many that took part in the BETA STARTUP element of the programme this year. The programme gives students access to weekly one-to-one business mentoring from industry experts over the academic year, to develop their ideas. 

The BETA START-UP programme would like to thank all the brilliant regional experts that volunteered their time and expertise to support and guide students with their business ideas through the programme. We could not do it without you!

The University’s Entrepreneurs in Residence Raphael Dennett and Gareth Hart support students on the BETA programme through business mentoring and skills workshops. Gareth Hart, who is also Director of Iridescent Ideas Community Interest Company, was a member of the latest BETA pitch judging panel. He said:

“The standard of the pitches this year was phenomenal. All the students had done meticulous market research and had compelling business ideas. The winners showed a bit more clarity in their business models and thinking. Encouragingly, there were a lot of social enterprise and ethical ideas too.

“This kind of experience is vital for future entrepreneurial or work endeavours. All the individuals pitching showed ambition, drive and delivered professional standard presentations.”

Join the programme or request an application form by email from Amber Strong at the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.

The successful students and businesses:

James Mugridge (BSc Business Management, stage 4).                                                            SHAKA Student Travel – providing adventure holidays to sports societies


Jessica Derrick (BSc Business, stage 4)                                                                                  Simply Tonga – sustainable tourism trips and gap experiences in Tonga


Debra Yeo (BSc Business Management, stage 4)                                                                      Discover Cornwall – promoting the best events and business offers in Cornwall


James Fortune (BA Business, stage 4)                                                                                  Afortay – connecting music event organisers with high quality venues and equipment


Philip Atkinson (BSc Accounting and Finance, stage 4)                                                      Anchor Weights Ltd – innovative adaptable fitness equipment design


Judit Mero Hossain (BSc Business Management, stage 4) and Julia Jaczo (BSc Nutrition, Exercise and Health, stage 4)                                                                                                                First Class Mentoring – assignment proofreading


Matthew Elmes (BSc Professional Management Practice, stage 3)                                        Pollenize CIC – urban bee farming for corporate social responsibility


Jacob Asghar (BSc Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, stage 2)                                  Virtu Design – innovative product design with sustainable materials


Vadims Mahnovs (BSc Business Management, stage 4)                                                          Onitbook – academic year planner


Bogdan Stoica & Radu-Adrian Marcu (BSc Computing & Games Development, stage 4) Resonance Games – unique touchscreen glyph recognition

Creative way of learning enterprise skills

Year 7 pupils from PHSG tackled business and creative tasks during an enterprise day with great enthusiasm and interest. The enterprise day was organised by the University of PlymouthFutures Entrepreneurship Centre and a Plymouth based ‘not-for-profit’ organisation Flameworks.

Enterprise days are designed to engage pupils in creative enterprise learning activities and develop their business and entrepreneurial skills. What’s more the enterprise days develop their soft skills such as communication, creative problem solving, time management, teamwork and presentation skills. Furthermore, the days give pupils the opportunity to work for and with a real business.

It is never too soon to encourage students to understand that as well as achieving their academic grades they need to have a broad portfolio of employability skills. Enterprise activities are a valuable way to develop these skills and encapsulate our school motto ‘For life, not school, we learn’.  With this in mind, it was very impressive to see our Year 7 students organise themselves, delegate, plan and meet the very tight deadlines they were given.  Working with the Plymouth University Futures Entrepreneurship team and local artist Christina Peters was an enriching experience and we look forward to welcoming them back into Plymouth High in the near future.”  Heather Longford, Careers & Work Experience Coordinator

For this specific enterprise day pupils were asked to suggest ideas on how to promote Flameworks courses and facilities among young people; to suggest new courses that Flameworks can offer for young people and to create a leaflet to help market their facilities. The pupils also had to prepare a 2 minute poster presentation explaining the marketing and promotional strategies.

Most of the morning was spent working with clay creating beautiful pendants or other clay objects and imprinting plants and other natural objects onto the clay. The morning was follow by a lecture on marketing and group work. The pupils enjoyed working in their groups, especially because the group allocation was arranged specifically so that, the pupils would work with the peers they did not know.

I was thrilled with the high level of the presentations, especially how creatively the tasks were approached. Creating short theatre performances in their presentations, using acting, creating songs, dancing and presenting with such a confidence was only one of the highlights of this exciting enterprise day full of collaboration, team work and creative learning.

I enjoyed the whole process of planning, creating the activity, spending the day at PHSG and seeing the outstanding results of the pupils’ creative hard work. The girls worked with such enthusiasm and were so proud of their work. All of them were excellent and it was very rewarding to see them thriving and excelling in everything they did during the day. I think it is very important to put learning in context and give pupils the opportunity to work for a real business. We specifically chose a task – where the target audience were young people – this gave pupils the opportunity to relate to the task closely and allowed us and the business to see the marketing improvements through their open and critical eyes.

I can only echo Elena’s written account of the successful outcome of the Enterprise day. I was totally impressed with the enthusiasm of the girls and their creative approach to the tasks on all levels, including the making of the clay pendants as well as the fantastic business and marketing materials and ideas they were able to produce within such a short time frame. The day surely demonstrated to me, what can be achieved with a focussed entrepreneurial creative business approach combined with creative skills and fun. It also highlighted the demand for new craft and arts courses for younger audiences and demonstrated a strong desire of young people to get involved in participatory exciting hands-on making activities and processes. As a representative of Flameworks artists and educators, I feel inspired by the positive buzz of the day, to help creating more course and workshop opportunities for young people to get involved and access our facility” Christina Peters.

In the words of Lucy Rodriques-Cova, a final year Faculty of Business student “I really enjoyed working as a Student Ambassador for the Enterprise Day. It was great to see the year 7’s come up with such innovative marketing ideas. They were extremely enthusiastic during their presentations and they were a pleasure to work with”.

I am looking forward to many more new creative and enterprising learning days.

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Innovative way of learning business and enterprise skills.

It was a delight to welcome pupils from Wadebridge School who came to spend the day at University of Plymouth (UoP) last week to learn about different degree programmes, to explore the PU campus and enhance their business skills through the business simulation game SimVenture.

SimVenture is a flexible, engaging and experiential business simulation learning tool that can be played individually or in teams. It is designed to reflect business reality and it also provides users with educational resources about business and enterprise. The user has to make all the business decisions from market research, marketing, manufacturing, productions, design, management, finance and human resources to legal contracts. The aim is to develop business awareness and to apply business knowledge practically. Through the game students can set up and run a business for 3 simulated years and further develop their business awareness.

During the visit, pupils also met our business student ambassadors who shared with them their student journey and experiences. Learning about finances, modules, accommodation, societies, placements, part time jobs and student life in general is very valuable to any potential student.

We finished the day with a beautiful sunny campus tour during which we visited different lecture theatres and classrooms in Portland Square, the Roland Levinsky Building, the Babbage Building which houses the largest computing open access area on campus and the Writing Café (a space where students can explore techniques and strategies to improve their writing). Pupils were also able to see the student flat in Mary Newman and the University’s Student Accommodation office, Student union, Reservoir Café, Sports Centre, Library and other facilities available to students.

We all enjoyed the day and I am already looking forward to a future campus visit.

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Futures Entrepreneurship Centre connecting students, academics, researchers, start-ups, businesses and entrepreneurs

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