B-SEEN programme

The BSEEN programme offers students and graduates the fantastic opportunity to start and run a business. Whether your long term intention is to be working for an organisation or whether you intend to be self-employed, BSEEN gives you the confidence, the right behaviours and an all round enterprising skillset to be highly successful in whatever future you choose.

What is BSEEN?

BSEEN stands for Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network. It’s a successful tried and tested start-up programme designed for University of Birmingham students, alumni and graduates living in the West Midlands.

In just six months, you will:

  • Build your entrepreneurial skills to become highly skilled (and highly employable)
  • Develop your business ideas to create a viable business worth pursuing
  • Increase your business knowledge, skills and capabilities to become an effective owner running your own sustainable venture.

In similarity to SPEED (which the University no longer runs) BSEEN is a local initiative. The aim is to turn viable ideas into trading businesses - running for at least 12 months to boost higher level skills and to create local jobs.

The University has partnered with Aston University and Birmingham City University to create a strong enterprise network. BSEEN is all about building contacts: sharing knowledge, experience and skills through a supportive, local community. By tapping into a much wider network of local students and graduates, you will progress your business more swiftly and smoothly as you learn from one another. After the 6 months, solid friendships will have been established, enabling you to stride out on your own with confidence and self-assurance.

Training and development

On BSEEN you will develop your knowledge and build skills to run a profitable venture (social enterprise or a commercial business). Any viable business will be accepted. It could be an online business, technology, photography, video production, food, health, or educational business; if there's a need / demand from your target market we will support it.

You will attend an intensive two-day start up workshop looking at developing your business, which includes:

  • your value proposition
  • your goals and business vision
  • your individual skills set
  • project management
  • marketing, sales and finance
  • tips on choosing a web designer
Additional essential training includes; how to set up your company, legal responsibilities and governance, HMRC (that's tax basically), book-keeping and information on useful software packages and websites. The most valuable element of BSEEN is the opportunity to speak to experienced entrepreneurs and professionals in industry who can guide you when you need it.

With all this free support available, all you need is the motivation, drive and commitment to not only start your venture, but run it and grow it. If you can demonstrate the ability to creatively come up with an idea and follow it through, learning as you go along, you will become highly employable. You may even find that you develop new ideas for another business, making you an entrepreneur.

Is BSEEN for me?

  1. Do you have ambitions to be a founder of a successful company?
  2. Do you want to run a small venture, gaining a decent wage to enable you to focus on other priorities and live the lifestyle you want?
  3. Do you want to gain experience of running a business to develop enterprising skills in order to become more employable and beat the competition?
  4. Do you have ambitions to be an entrepreneurial leader and turn around a company’s misfortune to remain/become a global success?

Whatever your motivation, BSEEN is a worthwhile option for everyone.

All you need is the commitment to research your idea for robustness and be committed to making your idea work. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation team at the University of Birmingham will guide you all the way.

What will I gain?

  • Strategy, operations and leadership experience
  • Hands on experience e.g. in finance, sales, marketing and social media
  • Highly desirable enterprising skills such as opportunity spotting, self- reliance, negotiation, problem–solving, creativity, leadership
  • Excellent interpersonal skills from meeting industry professionals
  • Vital peer networks for support, drive and motivation
  • Confidence to start another business
  • A brilliant CV and portfolio that shows determination, ambition and independence.

Programme outline

Here is an outline of the training you will be expected to attend if you join the BSEEN Programme.

Your programme start date and the date of the following events will be dependent of when you application form is received and which cohort you join.

  • Two day start-up workshop: two full days intensive training including an evening networking event with BSEEN alumni
  • Business registration workshop: how to set up your business legally 
  • Incubator induction: welcome to your office space on campus 

Followed by training workshops:

  • Finance for business
  • Marketing your business
  • Start-up sales
  • Professional pitching techniques
  • Networking
  • Securing investment (optional)
  • IP contracts (optional)

Individual sessions will also be available to ensure support is matched to you and your business needs.

You will also receive additional support:

  • £500 grant to help you set up the business
  • The opportunity to apply for additional funds from c.£10,000 funding pot
  • Asssistance from the EI team
  • Mentoring from business experts and founders of well-established companies

Start dates

We are running 6 Cohorts of BSEEN from 2013 - 2015. Here are the start dates (future dates may be tentative):

Cohort 1: 23 March 2013 - 13 businesses recruited

Cohort 2: 26 June 2013 - 14 businesses recruited

Cohort 3: 14 December 2013 - 12 businesses recruited

Cohort 4: 29 March 2014 - 15 businesses recruited

Cohort 5: 25 June 2014 - 30 businesses recruited

Application criteria

To join:

  • You must live in the West Midlands (have a West Midlands postcode)
  • You will set up your business in the West Midlands
  • You have not registered your business already with Companies House and have not started trading
  • You are a current student or have graduated within the last 5 years
  • You hold a tier 1 GE Visa if you are an international student

How to apply

BSEEN application form (PDF - 226KB)

BSEEN are currently recruiting their next cohort. If you would like to apply to join BSEEN, please email your BSEEN application form to ei@contacts.bham.ac.uk before the deadline date of 3 May 2015. Interviews will take place on 7-8 May.

If you feel you are not quite ready to apply, please register your interest with us and we may be able to advise you of support to help you with your application. Contact us at ei@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Once a business is registered then the support provided by BSEEN is classed as De Minimis Aid under EC Regulation 1998/2006. (All enterprises in the EU are eligible to receive up to 200,000 EUROS of aid every three year period).


If you require any assistance with you application or would like further information, please contact Paul Adams, BSEEN Programme Advisor - p.adams.2@bham.ac.uk

BSEEN is a partnership between Aston University, Birmingham City University and University of Birmingham. The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


"As recent graduates, we know there is a demand for a fancy dress shop in Selly Oak and decided that we would be the ones to open it. BSEEN has been a massive help, from the grant to the training sessions covering things that would take us months to learn by ourselves." - Chris Bates, BA History, University of Birmingham - Selly Joke

"The best part of BSEEN has been receiving advice from business experts on everything from social media to accounts. It has been invaluable to my business!" - Chris Hale, BSc Sports and Exercise Science, University of Birmingham - AcclimatiseMe

"The scheme has made us realise that it is always worth taking the plunge with a new idea as any risks can be minimised with careful planning." - Holly Henry, GDip Legal Studies and Megan Radcliffe, BA Art History, University of Birmingham - Law4nonlaw

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