2017 BETA programme

A monthly subscription service to help people with depression, a social enterprise based around West African cooking, and a way of using technology to improve golfing technique are among the student enterprises awarded funding through a University of Plymouth initiative.

Student travel companies, adventurous team building services and a series of enterprises based around virtual reality have been awarded business start-up grants after impressing judges as part of the BETA Enterprise programme, run by the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre.

The annual competition encourages budding business innovators to develop ideas in partnership with current academics and successful alumni.

Running from October to May, it is open to students on any course at the University, with the potential for them to earn up to £1,500 in the form of a grant to develop their ideas.

In 2017, 13 student start-ups have been awarded funding and Amber Strong, who runs the BETA Enterprise programme at the University, said:

“It was brilliant to see proactive student start-ups tackling diverse areas such as virtual reality training, coastal sustainability and student travel. BETA Enterprise provides students with a clear programme of support to help them grow and develop their business idea from formation to creation providing mentoring from a variety of business experts along the way. It is an integral part of their university experience and parallels the opportunities that exist within work-based placements.”

In the current academic year, over 600 students attended BETA Enterprise activities including guest lectures by entrepreneurial alumni, skills development workshops, networking and pitching opportunities.

Additionally, students registered on the core start-up element of the programme regularly met with local business mentors (including the University’s Entrepreneurs in Residence), who were available on a weekly basis.

Students were also able to fine-tune their ideas at the annual Business Plan Hackathon before pitching to the funding panel in either January, March, April or May.

James Mugridge, a Stage 2 BSc (Hons) Business Management student, said:

“It was a great programme with plenty of opportunities for advice from industry experts on how to develop business concepts and ideas. My personal highlight would have to be the pitch for grant funding, and we were even more delighted with the result. It has certainly helped my development and my business.”

This year’s successful students, awarded up to £1,500 per group to develop their ideas, are:

  • Sophie White – Sending Smiles, helping people suffering with depression and anxiety smile and feel they have a helping hand to get through it;
  • Ian Dawson – Pro Golf Analysis, using technology to provide detailed one to one feedback to improve your golfing technique;
  • Marc Rowbury – Vinyl Drip, upcycling discarded vinyls into art for the modern home;
  • James Mugridge, Alex Dodd and Lorelei Smith – SHAKA student travel, a travel company providing adventure sports holidays specifically for student sport societies;
  • Jerome Kennard – ERLY, a student to business/start-up skills match application. Getting students valuable work experience with local start-ups;
  • Stephanie Jasper – Your High Life, suspended tenting getaways and corporate team-building experiences. Let the experts set up a suspended tent for you, between 4 and 40 feet above the ground;
  • Hannah Fleming – The Monogram Co., minimalist monogrammed tote bags;
  • Ethan Taylor – Callero, traditional African cooking sauces with a percentage of the profits sent to food nutrition charities working in Senegal and West Africa. Food packed with passion, flavour and social goodness;
  • Tristan Schnegg – City Line Up, a music event App based on a city-by-city focus and great visual booking experience;
  • Nicholas Wade – Nikomus Games. Virtual Reality games development and educational training programmes using gamification;
  • Sam Perriton-Branch, Jake Holland and Corrie Barton – Feisty Crab Studios. Virtual Reality games development with a social focus and retro look;
  • Matthew James, Dan Livings, Jamie Cox – Total Distraction, Virtual Reality games development and potential to create gamification based training programmes for the medical sector;
  • Joshua Beech, Angus Lennon and Barnaby HollingsworthNurdle, beach nodule plastic collecting along local beaches with great international expansion potential and upcycling of the plastic beach nodules to raise awareness and funds to expand their beach plastic collection capacity.