Nottingham Trent backs entrepreneurs

August 2, 1996

Graduates with a good idea are to receive thousands of pounds from a university in return for a slice of the profits should they make it in the business world.

Bursaries of Pounds 6,000 each, plus materials, advice and office space are on offer from Nottingham Trent University for ten entrepreneurs.

The university, which would have shares in each of the enterprises, is looking for original ideas which appear commercially viable.

The Graduate Enterprise Programme has received Pounds 60,000 of European money to pump prime the project but Nottingham Trent expects to pay out thousands more for each scheme in equipment, technical backing and business support.

Initially, the projects would last for eight months, during which time the graduate would be attached to one of the laboratories in the faculties of computer sciences and engineering and receive help in turning the idea into a workable prototype.

If successful at this stage, the enterprise would move into an "incubator" unit on the university science park.

Here it would continue to receive university support until it became successful enough to survive on its own.

Dr Barry Blake-Coleman, commercial development manager in the university's science and mathematics department, said: "We have made the decision to provide enough resources to maximise the chances of success. Whatever it takes we will give.

"All they are expected to bring is their intellectual powers and bright ideas."

He said the university was taking part in the scheme because it believed it would boost United Kingdom competitiveness.

While only 38 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises survived more than three years, those chaperoned through the business process had an 85 per cent chance of survival.

But the intention was not wholly altruistic. "If this works then there will be returns, which could be used to fund further projects," he said.

The university would have some equity in each business but would forgo returns for the first few years. Once the enterprises were successful, it could take up to 10 per cent of the profits.

The scheme will be managed by Nottingham Consultants Ltd, a university-owned trading company.

Requests for application forms have already been pouring in for the bursaries, which should be up and running by the beginning of next year.

To comply with European regulations, successful applicants must live in the East Midlands during the project.

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