The University of Suffolk has successfully bid for funding to create a multi-level programme at the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre (IWIC) which will benefit business recovery post COVID-19 and will enhance students’ learning experience.
The Entrepreneurs Forge is an immersive development programme designed to create and foster innovation that is strong, enduring, and successful. Leading and driving the strengthening of Suffolk’s digitally creative SMEs, and the employability of Suffolk’s students and graduates, the programme will forge strong bonds between participants to support personal and business recovery and resilience post COVID-19.
Through the creation of a physical space, the Entrepreneurs Forge will provide an enhanced environment to bring industry onto the University of Suffolk campus to connect with staff and students of the University, working collaboratively to solve real world projects.
The Entrepreneurs Forge will specifically provide a space for students and graduates to collaborate on projects and meet commercial clients – a space to ‘hack’ and work together. Furthermore, students and graduates will have the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial competencies and capacity and business will have the opportunity to engage with a programme of support encouraging growth.
Through the development of a physical space and enhanced digital infrastructure the Forge will create an environment to stimulate creativity and problem-solving. By working with students and graduates to develop greater entrepreneurial efficacy and digital literacy, the University will create a group of innovative problems solvers with the skills and knowledge to tackle real issues.
A mini business MBA will form part of the Entrepreneurs Forge. The mini MBA provides an opportunity for business leaders to reflect on their business journey, address and overcome challenges and to plan for the future. At the end of the eight sessions they will ‘graduate’ with a project/plan that will form the basis of the student/graduate projects which will be delivered from the Forge.
Professor Gurpreet Jagpal, Pro Vice-Chancellor Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Suffolk commented “The creation of the Entrepreneurs Forge at the IWIC will build on the University’s track record in supporting ICT, Gaming and Digital Creative companies through our incubation, knowledge exchange, internships and games hub programmes and provide a programme and immersive space to foster collaboration, creativity and connectivity between the recovery and resilience needs of our digitally creative SMEs and students within our computing and gaming programmes.”
The Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) is a £1.65m fund allocated by Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) to support local, place-based economic recovery from COVID-19 across Suffolk.
Cllr Nick Gowrley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Housing & Enterprise for Suffolk County Council and Chair of Suffolk’s Joint Growth Portfolio Holder Group said “We are delighted to be investing and supporting the development of the Entrepreneurs Forge, supporting the potential for creative digital innovation and business start-ups in a really important and fast growing sector.”
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of NALEP, said “This project will be a fantastic showcase of the innovation which can support SMEs through recovery from the impact of the pandemic. Initiatives which connect University students more closely with businesses can help to drive growth, encourage businesses to innovate and develop new ideas, and give students and graduates excellent local opportunities.”
For more information on the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre please visit www.uos.ac.uk/iwic
University of Suffolk Press Office