START is a new free initiative designed to take aspiring founders from a tech-based business idea to starting and scaling their own company.

A West of England Combined Authority funded programme, led by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), in collaboration with the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, and techSPARK, the team are searching for budding entrepreneurs to elevate their idea to the next level. 

They’re particularly keen to hear from individuals in underrepresented communities and those living in rural areas. And in exciting news, START is now accepting applications for the first cohort. The programme is looking for applicants who are at the ‘just an idea’ stage. If you think “START probably isn’t for me”, then the team definitely want to hear from you! You can easily register your interest on the START website here today or give us a call on +44 (0)117 32 86238.

What is START?

START is all about helping people in the West of England be successful with their technology based ideas. If you’re accepted onto the course, START will deliver you 28 hours of intensive training, spread over six sessions, as one of 50 participants. You will be grouped with your peers based on your complimentary skills and will receive bespoke support for up to 12 months. This will be supplemented by 1-2-1 mentoring and masterclasses from successful founders and experts, as well as additional learning material from a dedicated content library.

“START represents an amazing opportunity to provide the mentoring and skills that early stage founders need to create a business and have the tools and support to scale it”

Sessions will also be in conjunction with broader networking and learning events with people from across the startup community. There will be access to invaluable shared networks, resources, and investor activation to help you on your investment and growth journey. To round it all off, there will be follow-on support for programme alumni embedding them in the startup community, including the chance for the strongest ideas to be awarded free early access stage incubation.  

Modules include:

The Start-up

We will cover what it means to run a business – the basics of getting started, and an introduction to founder mindset.

The Founder

We will cover the nature of entrepreneurship, founder mindset, and entrepreneurial personality types. This will lead into an understanding of team roles, leadership and management and group working.

Developing Founder Skills

We will explore the skills gaps of participants. We will look at the importance of time management, networking, and communication. These sessions will later explore organisational growth, how to build a team, and being a good employer.

The Idea

We look at the difference between good ideas and strong business ideas. We take a first look at design thinking and customer centric approaches. The participants will begin working on a value proposition canvas.

The Solution

We will continue to build the value proposition canvas, looking at connecting the solution with customers. As well as looking at market opportunity and customer segments, we will look at how to put this into practice.

The Plan

We will consolidate all the previous sessions with the completion of the Value Proposition Canvas. We explore the next steps and develop skills to explain and present business to external audiences.

The Universities that are supporting START have a fantastic track record in supporting ideas and startups. As Tess O’Shea, founder of Seatox says, “There’s a lot of support here, sessions, one-to-ones. It just feels like you’re well looked after.” Tess is just one example from the University of the West of England’s Launch Space.

The first cohort will be open to people wishing to register their interest from today with a half a day intro session in early March. After speaking to you and learning more about what you’d like to achieve, the START team will review your idea. You’ll hear back shortly afterward, but if you’re not successful this time around, don’t be discouraged. The START team is happy to provide all the support you need to keep developing your idea in time for the next round of applications. There will be 6 cohorts accepted onto the programme in total each taking place on a quarterly basis.

Abby Frear, Director of techSPARK says, “We’re so excited to be launching START in collaboration with WECA and the four West of England universities, especially as it’s an initiative dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive region. At techSPARK we’re fortunate to spend a lot of time with startups and founders, so we know the challenges they face. START represents an amazing opportunity to provide the mentoring and skills that early-stage founders need to create a business and have the tools and support to scale it.”

How to get involved

Want to know more about START?