Abertay University has unveiled a new enterprise centre to support current students and graduates in setting up in business.
Bell Street Ventures is based in the university’s Old College building in Dundee and is equipped with modern office space, meeting rooms, breakout areas and superfast broadband.
The facility, which will officially open next month, is available to any student interested in getting started in business.
Transforming the physical space has been possible thanks to the generosity of the late William (Bill) M Sword and support from Santander Universities.
In 1949, Mr Sword launched his business career with his wife Betty by opening a tea bar selling snacks to students and football fans in what was then Dundee Technical College, but is now the heart of the Abertay campus.
He often said it was this opportunity that helped to launch his entrepreneurial ambitions.
Head of business engagement Lorna Edwards said: “The most important thing our students need to do is concentrate on their courses however we’d like to get students thinking about and valuing their talent.
“The experience of starting in business will give them more options upon graduation while also giving them the option of earning some money while still being a student.
“We also know that a lot of our students choose to stay locally after they graduate and Bell Street Ventures can either help them directly or find the best place for them to go next.
“I’d say to our students, come and have a go with our help rather than go out on graduation and spend a lot of time and money they might not have.”
Newly-appointed student enterprise officer Simon Fraser will assist students and graduates to explore their ideas and finding the right advice and assistance to maximise chances of success.
A range of training workshops and support sessions will be on offer.
There will also be guidance on how to maximise applications to funding such as Scottish EDGE, Converge Challenge, Scottish Institute for Enterprise and the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards.
Mr Fraser added: “We will tailor the workshops in line with the applications to awards bodies.
“We will also help to ensure the students run their businesses legitimately – registered with HMRC and paying tax.
“It’s a case of setting them on the right path.
“It also means that if they need a bank loan later, they are much more credible.”
Take Your Marks to be based at centre
A graduate business that uses high intensity exercise and mindfulness techniques to tackle disruptive classroom behaviour is among the first companies to be based at Bell Street Ventures.
Abertay graduate Alan Clark has launched fledgling business Take Your Marks with the aim of addressing lesson disruption, driving up attainment and increasing pupil engagement in classrooms across the country.
Delivered through high impact five-minute breaks in classroom settings, teachers are empowered to lead a series of online exercise and wellbeing resources to refocus pupils’ minds during the school day and to defuse challenging scenarios.
Mr Clark said: “Disruptive behaviour in classrooms is a huge issue in Scottish schools and can have a significant impact on class attainment levels.
“We believe that mental, social, emotional and physical wellbeing underpin all learning.
“Put simply we can’t learn properly until we are in the right state to learn.
“Our approach is, therefore, to use short five-minute breaks within the classroom setting to enhance wellbeing and increase engagement.”
Ranging in difficulty and tailored to suit different age groups, his sessions include high intensity exercise bursts, yoga and breathing breaks, core stability tasks to focus attention.
Primary schools use Take Your Marks as a whole school resource, with nurseries utilising it to develop movement skills and increase physical activity. Secondary schools tap into it as a targeted resource for specific groups.
Joining Mr Clark at Bell Street Ventures will be two other Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellows currently hosted at Abertay.
Tayyaba Nafees operates CyberShell Ltd, commercialising her PhD research in cybersecurity, while Dr Christos Michalakos is combining his expertise in sound and music with augmented and virtual reality technologies in a new venture called ICHOS.