Enterprise Acceleration

The Enterprise Acceleration team works with academic researchers who want to learn more about commercialising their research or becoming entrepreneurs. 

We provide enterprise skills training and start-up incubation services, manage funds that bridge the gap between research funding and commercial investment, and provide start-up incubation services that are available to both academics and SMEs in the Birmingham area.

We set up spinout companies, and search for the right management talent that will help the company to reach its desired goal – whether that is exit by sale of the company, or long-term growth as an independent commercial entity.

Finally, we manage the University’s shareholdings in spinouts companies, and maintain relationships with external investors.    

David Coleman
Head of Enterprise Acceleration
Email: D.Coleman@bham.ac.uk, or call 0121 414 5582. 

 

Enterprise Training

We provide two types of training for academics who are considering commercialisation.  

Enterprise Skills seminars

Enterprise Skills seminars are run during term-time at the BizzInn business incubator.  These are informal lunchtime seminars that cover a rolling programme of topics.  Seminars are delivered by internal and external trainers, and provide an opportunity to question experts and network with researchers, entrepreneurs and local businesses.   

For further information on the Enterprise Skills seminar programme for 2017/18, contact Sofia Hansrod at s.hansrod@bham.ac.uk or call 0121 414 6539.

Medici Enterprise Training Programme

The Medici Enterprise Training Programme is our flagship course and has been training entrepreneurial academics and research staff countrywide for 15 years. The main aims of the course are to develop the business skills of researchers and to help them progress the commercial potential of their research.

The Medici programme has a commercial value of £2,850 but is free to academics at the University. 

The programme covers:

  • Transition from Researcher to Entrepreneur
  • Networking skills
  • Intellectual property protection and exploitation
  • An Introduction to Finance
  • Negotiation skills
  • Commercial strategy
  • Raising Finance      
  • Business planning
  • Working with Business/Industry
  • Marketing - Analysing a market and marketing yourself/your idea
  • Ways of assessing an innovative idea
  • Sales and Pitching skills

The 2018 programme will be delivered over 7 days, at monthly intervals from January and April 2018. 

For more information contact Sofia Hansrod at s.hansrod@bham.ac.uk or call 0121 414 6539.

Funding 

Commercial investors interrogate business ideas very thoroughly before they invest.  They normally require both technical proof of concept (research demonstrating that the technology works) and commercial proof of concept (showing that there is a compelling market for the products based on the technology). 

Commercial proof of concept work is not typically covered by research grants.  The Enterprise Acceleration team manages two funds that are designed to help bridge the gap between research funding and the necessary commercial investment required to take products to market.

The Enterprising Birmingham Fund 

The Enterprising Birmingham Fund bridges the commercial proof of concept gap that arises when research funding has ceased.  It enables the University to validate and demonstrate the commercial viability of an idea.  Typically this involves the contracting-in of external expertise to carry out market analysis/testing, and the development of business plans, and is often used to attract potential investors. 

University of Birmingham Spinout Investment fund

The University of Birmingham Spinout Investment fund was created to enable the University to invest in its portfolio of spinout companies (at both seed and later stages). Up to £5m will be co-invested with third party investors over the period 2016-2021, into well validated spinout companies that have been created to commercialise intellectual property invented at the University. 

For further information about funding please contact Steve Ellis, Commercial Intelligence Manager at S.Ellis.1@bham.ac.uk, or call 0121 414 8633.

Through our Business incubation activities, we also help both spinouts and other regional start-ups access finance

Business incubation

Enterprise Acceleration manages the BizzInn, a business incubator that provides business support for regional entrepreneurs, start-ups and academics.  

BizzInn members receive free office space with 24/7 access, and an intensive start-up and growth programme including business guidance from professional advisors specialising in intellectual property, accounting, tax, and market research, and access to finance through grants, loans, investors, and business angels.

Membership of BizzInn’s business support programme is currently offered free (subject to eligibility), and is available for:

  • Academics who wish to consider commercialisation of their research
  • Entrepreneurs and academic teams developing new research inspired companies, and
  • Young high-tech companies looking to grow their business.

The BizzInn is also the venue for free seminars, training and networking events.

For more information about the BizzInn contact Andrew Cruxton at a.cruxton@bham.ac.uk, or call 0121 414 6132, or visit the BizzInn website.

Spinouts

A spinout company is a term most often used to describe a company that is formed to commercialise intellectual property, expertise or facilities of the University, and in which it and the academics have an equity stake (shareholding). 

Setting up a spinout company is time-consuming and requires a high level of commitment from the academic or academic team.  The University also commits substantial resource when it sets up a spinout company.  This includes:

  • Protecting intellectual property
  • Advising on proof of concept studies and funding
  • Market evaluation and analysis
  • Shareholder management and negotiation
  • Setting up a management team that can run the company
  • Finding external investors

The process of setting up a spinout company is managed by the Enterprise Acceleration team, who also manage the University’s portfolio of spinouts.  

The Spinout Manual provides an overview of what it takes to set up a spinout.  

For more information contact Nick Gostick, Spinout Development Manager at n.a.gostick@bham.ac.uk, or call 0121 414 8619. 

Pitch Training

The Enterprise Acceleration team runs two major pitching competitions.  Both offer training on how to deliver the perfect pitch. 

Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition   

The Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition is open to academics who want to commercialise their research.  All entrants are provided with free training on how to build a commercial development plan and how to deliver the perfect pitch to external investors or potential development partners. 

Finalists pitch to an external panel of business leaders and investors, who award the £20,000 prize to the winner. 

The competition runs every two years. 

The next Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition will be held in 2019.

Pitchfest

Pitchfest is aimed at businesses from start-up to scale-up and beyond.  It is an annual event run by BizzInn on behalf of the University of Birmingham, in association with Minerva business angels at the University of Warwick and Aston University.  It is open to all businesses/entrepreneurs in the West Midlands, and provides pitch training through a series of workshops and investor selection days in advance of a grand-final where entrants pitch to external investors for prizes. 

Pitchfest typically runs from March to June each year.  For information about Pitchfest 2018, contact Andrew Cruxton, a.cruxton@bham.ac.uk, or call 0121 414 6132.