Spark ignites innovation

Sponsoring the creation of hi-tech services for an international conference has demonstrated yet again how enterprise has become firmly embedded in the University curriculum.

Spark’s Head of Business Start-Up, Kairen Skelley, speaking at the networking dinner for the International Entrepreneurship Educators Conference 2018

Three people walking down a corridor

Spark, the business start-up service based in the University’s Career Centre, teamed up with the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) – a not-for-profit social enterprise set up to provide loans to SME businesses – to sponsor the creation of a mobile event app for attendees of the International Entrepreneurship Educators Conference (IEEC) 2018.

The highly interactive app, created by Glasgow start-up Bizvento, was customised to meet the needs of IEEC and provided up-to-date itinerary information to enhance the attendees’ experience. Specific features included a schedule of talks, enhanced session information, speaker information, a search feature, social feeds and award voting.

Bizvento co-founder and CEO, Stefan Raue, said: “Thanks to Spark and the Business Enterprise Fund as kind sponsors, we provided our mobile event app to allow the organisers to engage with delegates. 

“It is vital for the success of young entrepreneurs and businesses to have access to, and be part of, support networks within the universities. Brian Baillie, Student Business and Incubation Manager at Spark, has been crucial to the development and journey of Bizvento, and we are very proud to be part of this community.”

Celebrating its 13th year, IEEC is the leading global three-day forum for enterprise and entrepreneurship educators and practitioners. It was held at Leeds Beckett University this year, attracting about 300 delegates from Higher Education institutions across the UK and internationally.

Spark’s collaboration with the BEF, in joint-funding this project, underlines a mutual commitment to support, grow and engage with students and graduate enterprise societies and invest in new start-up activities and initiatives.

Speaking at the networking dinner, sponsored by the University and Santander on the first evening, Spark’s Head of Business Start-Up, Kairen Skelley, outlined the evolution of the service’s success in supporting enterprise at Leeds.  

Under Kairen’s leadership, and working closely with the University’s Alumni office and external partners, Spark’s offer has grown to include:

  • 18 enterprise scholarships
  • proof of concept grants
  • funded ‘Year in Enterprise’ opportunities, as an alternative to industrial placements
  • a wide network of mentorship and enterprise ambassadors
  • incubator space; and 
  • a highly successful partnership with Santander. 

“For all of us at Spark,” Kairen said, “one of the most pleasing aspects of our work is seeing the growing number of students and graduates we supported, who now run thriving businesses, becoming donors and mentors to the next generation of student and graduate entrepreneurs. 

“The enterprise community we’ve created at Leeds has come full circle and has achieved a critical mass that gets stronger year on year.”

Visit the Spark website or email for further information about the service.

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